FILM REVIEW: Guang 光3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Guang is a story about two brothers. The elder brother, Wen Guang is autistic and suffers from attention deficit disorder, struggles with social interaction, and has difficulty performing day to day obligations. He also has a secret passion. To make ends meet, Wen Guang is coerced by his younger brother into looking for a job to share his burden on meeting their monthly expenses. But all Guang wants is to look for the final glass that will bring him a simple, pure moment of joy.
Director: Quek Shio Chuan
Cast: Kyo Chen
Runtime: 14 min
Review by Leon Lau
What shocked me the most about Guang (2011) is just how uplifting it is. Despite the subject matter, first time writer & director Quek Shio Chuan delivers a deeply personal, crowd pleasing tale about a man living with autism.
The story follows two brothers, Wen Guang (Kyo Chen) and his younger brother (Quek Shio Chuan). Wen Guang is autistic and suffers from Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD) and struggles with social interaction. His younger brother wants him to be independent and pushes him to get a job, but all Guang wants is to satisfy his secret passion of finding the perfect glass cup.
Based off the director’s own personal experiences with living with his brother who has autism, there isn’t a single false note in Guang. From the acting to the writing and visual execution, Quek Shio Chuan portrays his condition in an incredibly authentic and relatable way. The dialogue never feels forced and the actors do an incredible job at selling the frustration and quirks that comes with their situation.
Kyo Chen steals the show as the titular Guang, who delivers a committed physical performance. He manages to convincingly portray Guang’s difficulty in social interaction through wayward glances and rigid body movements. Much of the film is told from Guang’s perspective, and it gives us a unique look into how it might feel like to live with autism on a day to day basis.
This is all brought to life through strong directing and visuals. On top of his attention deficit disorder (or ADD), Guang has obsessive-compulsive disorder and the cinematography and sound design help to showcase this beautifully. From extremely symmetrical production design to the unpredictable transitions from wide shots to close ups, the audience gets to experience just how erratic Gaung’s mind can get.
It is this meticulous attention to detail in every facet of Guang that makes it such a joy to watch. Whether it is his colour coordinated wardrobe, or the fact that his shirt labels are always cut out, we learn about Guang’s quirks through little visual hints. If there is anything to complain about, it’s the runtime. While I enjoyed how the short wanted to leave things on a more ambiguous note, I found myself wanting to see more from this story. It ends on a high note but the film feels slightly incomplete.
The success of this short led to a feature length adaptation of Guang made by the same filmmakers, which was released to critical acclaim last year. But as it stands, this short is a wonderful appetizer that makes you want to learn more about these characters.
Eye opening, moving, and entertaining, Guang is an absolute joy to watch. It is brimming with positivity but never forgets to focus on the hardships that comes with being autistic.