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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Knight at the Movies: Love Me Tomorrow?; Invisible Woman
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

This article shared 3746 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
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Days after being promoted to manager of the eyeglass shop in which the quiet, thirtysomething Weichung ( Richie Jen ) has worked for years, something happens that upends his world.

While arranging a display of designer frames in the store's window, Weichung happens to glance up into the eyes of Thomas ( Wong Kar Lok ), a handsome flight attendant who gives him a dazzling smile and then steps into the shop to buy some new glasses. The heart of the optician goes pitty-pat. In that moment, Weichung's closet door—which he'd thought he'd shut nine years before when he married and fathered a child—swings wide open.

Weichung isn't the only one troubled about the status of his current relationship. In writer-director Arvin Chen's bittersweet Taiwanese dramedy Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, just about all the characters are having second thoughts about their love lives. Weichung's wife, Feng ( played by singer Mavis Fan ), is constantly being pressured by her nagging mother to give her another grandson "before it's too late." But Feng, an office worker who is oblivious to the adoration of her male boss, knows that something's wrong with her marriage.

Then there's Weichung's sister, Mandy ( Kimi Hsia ), a free spirit who has spent years flitting from man to man who suddenly gets the jitters about her upcoming nuptials. While on a trip to the grocery store with her nice dullard of a fiance, San-San ( Stone ), Mandy can't face the thought of spending her life picking out toilet paper and flees the store.

But it's Weichung's realization that's the main thrust of the picture. When Thomas returns to pick up his new glasses, Weichung fantasizes about a delicate kiss with the object of his ardor. Later, restless and unable to sleep, he heads to a gay bar, gets drunk and dances with abandon. In jubilation, thinking of his man-crush on Thomas, he literally floats up to the sky ( in the film's most poetic camera moment ). Eventually, Weichung agrees to sneak off with Thomas for a bit of afternoon delight. Once in the room he shyly admits, "I haven't been gay in a long time. I used to be—then I stopped" and he suddenly realizes that he's not just flirting with an affair but with a return to his true self and decides to leave before things go further.

Feng, after accidentally spotting the duo together, seems ready to move things on as well. Out with her co-workers, she drunkenly belts out the title song at a karaoke bar, underscoring Chen's theme that is more concerned with family ( a lot of Weichung's dilemma obviously focuses on the effect his decision will have on his little boy Stephen ) rather than sex ( with one sorta passionate kiss ).

Chen's movie might seem rather chaste in light of its sexual-identity premise but ultimately his conservative, poignant approach works beautifully with his emotionally bound characters. The film played last fall in Chicago at the International Film Festival and the jury I served on honored it with the fest's top queer movie prize. It returns to Chicago Friday, Jan. 24, with an exclusive engagement at the AMC River East 21.

Fans of the costume drama will swoon over The Invisible Woman, which stars Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones as mistress Nelly Ternan, the woman he kept hidden from the world until his untimely death. Based on the excellent biography by Claire Tomalin and from a script by Abi Morgan, Fiennes directs a somewhat slow-moving but rewarding movie.

Years after his demise, Nelly, who has married and has a child, is still haunted by the affair with Dickens. She reflects back on the circumstances that brought them together, and an exceedingly polite and handsomely mounted period piece plays. When the teenage Nelly and her two older sisters are first introduced to Dickens by her mother, actress Catherine Ternan ( Kristin Scott Thomas ), he is England's most renowned author and a bona fide celebrity.

Dickens—who dallied with theatrics his entire life, and was himself a powerful orator and actor—held sway over pretty much everyone around him. By dint of his talent and celebrity, not to mention his financial success, we see that that Dickens won't take "no" for an answer when he sets his heart on something. After deciding that the pretty ( rather than beautiful ) Nelly is what his heart wants, he dispenses with his wife ( who, to be honest, he had maintained only for appearances for years ), clashes with his children and proceeds to get exactly what he wants.

That Nelly eventually wants it, too, is part of what gives the film its drive and a window into the mystery of romance. Nelly knows full well that by becoming Dickens's mistress, she's forsaking her good name; however, for a myriad of reasons, she proceeds anyway.

Fiennes keeps the camera very close to himself and his other actors, which pays off naturally enough with a subtle drama like The Invisible Woman, in which a flickering of the eyelids or a nod of the head makes all the difference. Although not quite the bodice-ripper one might imagine, nor a plot-driven, multi-cast epic like Downton Abbey, Fiennes nevertheless gives us a memorable peek into the private life of a complicated man and his previously hidden beloved.

This article shared 3746 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
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