Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Emily Ting, 2016)
Emily Ting’s take on Richard Linklater’s classic Before Sunrise, is one of the most uneven films I’ve seen in a long time. This is the kind of film that’s ostensibly made for me. I love films that are nothing more than a pair of people talking. The Before series, specifically Sunrise, are some of my favorite films of all time. The issue with these kinds of films is that they are delicate creations. While a week supporting performance or clunky dialogue in a scene can be overlooked when it comes to a larger film, the smaller character pieces live and die by these details.
Unfortunately for Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, it falls victim to some of these issues. I found Bryan Greenberg’s performance as Josh to be very wooden. At no point in the 80-minute run time did I Believe that he had the necessary charisma to keep Ruby (Jamie Chung) interested. The writing, while not inherently flawed, requested a larger suspension of disbelief than I was willing to allow. Fifteen minutes into the film, Ruby was willing to ditch her friends in order to spend more time with Josh. Nothing in their small talk led me to believe that she would be willing to make that decision.
The film also had its high points though. Jamie Chung’s performance alone was almost enough to carry Greenberg’s. I genuinely believed her feelings towards Josh, even if I didn’t believe she would be feeling them. I would gladly spend another hour walking around with Ruby learning even more about her. The dialogue between the characters was also extremely well written when taken out of the context of if the conversations were reasonable given the relationship. They touched on a lot of personal beliefs without feeling scripted, and the small talk was very insightful into who these characters were.
For the type of film that Ting set out to create, dialogue is the most important item to excel. It’s why I return to Before Sunrise time after time, and it’s what keeps Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong from being a complete mess. That being said, story believability issues and poor acting by half the cast of two drain the film of most of it’s potential. I’m still glad that I saw it, and would tentatively recommend it to anyone else who shares an enjoyment of the genre, but do not see myself revisiting it any time soon. I do however look forward to what Ting’s career brings next. It wouldn’t take much cleanup to turn this into something worth seeking out.