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FILM REVIEW: 100th Birthday Wish 小孩不在家2 min read

19 December 2018 2 min read


FILM REVIEW: 100th Birthday Wish 小孩不在家2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Today is the 100th birthday of Granny. The family decides to hold a grand birthday party for her, but Granny only feels lonely.

Director: Chien-Hung Lien 練建宏
Cast: Chang Shiouyun, Hsu Wilson
Year: 2016
Language: Mandarin Chinese
Run time: 20min

Review by Jean Wong

A short film with a message that hits home, 100th Birthday Wish (2016) is a project completed under the 高雄拍 (Kaohsiung Shorts) venture. From the less-explored perspective of an elderly woman, 100th Birthday Wish explores how different life is like for them. As someone who has already lived out most of their lives, their greatest wish is often as simple as spending time with family. However, compared to Granny (Chang Shiouyun), the rest of her family are shown to place more importance on other things such as their careers; their own lives; their own families. This indifference towards Granny — or Nainai 奶奶, as the family calls her — evokes a bitter twinge in viewers’ hearts and sets the emotional tone for the rest of the film.

Nainai’s family members visiting her for her centennial birthday is a rare occasion. The visits, that is, not her 100th birthday. Yet despite the rowdy atmosphere, Nainai’s loneliness is vividly captured and articulated to us. Director Chien-Hung Lien skillfully encapsulates how isolated one can feel even in a crowded room through her perspective. The Chinese title of the film, 小孩不在家 – which roughly translates to “the children are not at home” – hints at this emotional segregation between Nainai and the rest of her family. Nainai’s yearning to surround herself with her deceased family members who had cared for her greatly as compared to her current offspring  comes across strongly through Chang’s extraordinarily realistic acting. The way her eyes lit up and darkened at key points in the film yanked at my heartstrings, creating moments of great emotional resonance.

What makes the film so unbearably relatable despite the elderly perspective is the universal feeling of being alone. All in all, 100th Birthday Wish is a really heart-rending short film that reminds us of what’s truly important — family. Regardless of one’s age, this film is an all-encompassing watch that contains a powerful message not to be forgotten.

Contemplative empath who sees wonder in the curious world. Has a habit of hiding behind books and occasionally dabbles in games, Netflix and YouTube. Is permanently attached to bubble tea.
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