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Film Review: Dearest Anita (2019) - Really touching both Anita Mui fans and non-fans

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of DEAREST ANITA (2019).  ©ID Productions Limited
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of DEAREST ANITA (2019). ©ID Productions Limited

Anita Mui Yim-fong (1963-2003) was a legendary charismatic Canto-pop diva in Hong Kong. She's pretty familiar even in Japan for her roles in Jackie Chan produced Rouge (1987), Miracles / Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989) and The Legend of Drunken Master (1994) etc. Her brilliant talent as a pop singer is internationally undoubtable.

This film is more touching us than Citizen Kane (1941) in terms of emotionally close distance between the protagonists and every body's idol Anita Mui. Searching for true human aspect of Anita Mui is professionally executed by the comedy film craftsman co-dir. Clifton Ko Chi-Sum.

It does not intend to 'consume' Mui but it is mainly dedicated to the idealistic image of Mui and her close loyal fans. Especially of the fan club Mui Nation.

It consists of five loyal fans' flashback episodes. Edith (Sonija Kwok) 's episode is the setup of the entire film that film starts from Edith leading bunch of fans to keep track of Mui's abandoned items from her house after her death, and they trawl through it in rubbish cans.

The reason is not for fetish interests but for fans who sent items to Mui. Edith returns the items to its original senders, it revives their collective image and memory of Mui. At the same time, the film reconstructs the positive image of 'star' in general.

Among other episodes (Ken's American Dream and Perry's school drama), Amy (Myolie Wu)'s episode and Kiki (Yuki Fong)'s episode are generally important to understand the meaning of the film.

Amy's episode is that Amy and Mui were friends as fans of the Japanese pop singer Hideki Saijyo, and keep their relationship even after Mui becomes the top star. However, Amy's domestic situation gets worse, they are estranged gradually. Mui keeps actively trying contact many times with Amy because Mui's inner life is always intruded by bloodsucking money making machines surround her in the 'upper' society life.

Mui's failed calls for her close friend Mui is poignant and full of meaning, not just telephone call sound. It is a call from Mui's soul. This telephone call is highly spiritualised by Clifton Ko Chi-Sum. Its sequence is perfectly dealt and clearly embodied by Myolie Wu and Elvina Kong who dubbed Mui's dialogues even though Mui had thousands of fans not only bloodsuckers. Additionally, I have to mention here is acting of Mui is always backed onto the camera. Face was completely hidden from audience. This is not unusual at all. See Jesus Christ in Ben-hur (1959). This stylistic solution makes us more imagine Mui's existence as if the real one on the screen.

Kiki's episode's core conflict is comparison between her talent agency's ordinary pseudo 'star' who emotionlessly throws fans gifts away. The broken portrait frame from his fan is something opposite to Kiki's present to Mui which is also a portrait frame. It is McGuffin of this film. The portrait is fan's heart. It can be a mirror that how the stars react to it is how real they are.

In conclusion, this is a real art of film. And it also enhances 'Hong Kong spirit', a respect and love for Hong Kong indigenous culture and its spiritual values based on collective memories of the indigenous citizens. On the contrary to 'opposition' filmmakers, Clifton Ko Chi-Sum's master piece Dearest Anita (2019) is more genuinely dedicated to both Hong Kong lovers and Mui fans. A perfect genre film. Genuine Hong Kong film!


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