Review: ‘Lost Love’ (2023), starring Sammi Cheng and Alan Luk

May 16, 2023

by Carla Hay

Ng Tsz Kiu and Sammi Cheng in “Lost Love” (Photo courtesy of Illume Films and Imagi Crystal)

“Lost Love” (2023)

Directed by Ka Sing Fung

Cantonese with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place over 13 years in Hong Kong, the dramatic film “Lost Love” features an almost all-Asian cast of characters (with one biracial person) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: After losing their son in a tragic accident, two spouses become foster parents to several children, who have various personal issues.

Culture Audience: “Lost Love” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a simple but effective story about love between foster parents and their foster children.

Sammi Cheng, Jiu Kai Nam Matt and Alan Luk in “Lost Love” (Photo courtesy of Illume Films and Imagi Crystal)

Beautifully filmed and simply told, “Lost Love” is a “slice of life” drama that centers on a married couple’s 13-year journey as foster parents to a variety of children, after the couple lost their own child to a tragedy. It’s a movie puts an emphasis on realism instead of heavy melodrama. Therefore, scenes in “Lost Love” that show everyday life routines might be too dull for some viewers. However, the movie has much deeper meaning in how it depicts coping with grief over the loss of a loved one.

Directed by Ka Sing Fung (who co-wrote the “Lost Love” screenplay with Lo Kim Fei), “Lost Love” (which takes place in Hong Kong) begins by showing Chan Tin Mei (played by Sammi Cheng) on a school bus. She’s talking to the driver, who is one of her co-workers. The driver says that they lost a bid that year and the bus’ owner (whose name is Fat) is selling the bus.

At home, Mei and her husband, Ho Bun (played by Alan Luk), feel a void in their lives. Their son Toh (played by Wong Tsz Hin, in flashback scenes) died from a drowning accident at the age of 6 or 7. Mei’s income will be affected by the bus sale, so she suggests to Bun that they become foster parents. At first, Mei is only thinking of the extra income that they can get from the government for being foster parents. She has no idea how deeply affected she will be by the foster children who come into her life.

Before officially becoming foster parents, Mei and Bun have to be approved by child welfare services. A government social worker named Miss Mok (played by Hedwig Tam) is their main liaison who does the inspections and evaluations. After inspecting the home, Miss Mok tells Mei and Bun (who are both smokers) that the only thing they need to do if they are to be approved as foster parents is not smoke inside the house.

Mei and Bun’s first foster child is named Sam (played by Wong Tsz Lok Sean), who is about 5 or 6 years old. Sam is shy and somewhat anxious child who wets his bed. Sam’s single mother is unable to take care of him. Mei is much more impatient than Bun when it comes to take care of children, so she gets easily irritated by Sam’s bedwetting problems.

One night, Sam’s biological mother shows up at the home unannounced and physically attacks Mei before Mei is able to fight her off. It’s a shocking incident that could have turned Mei off from being a foster parent. Instead, it’s a turning point for Mei, because she begins to understand that Sam’s bedwetting comes from untold trauma that he probably experienced because of his dysfunctional biological family.

Bun remains a consistently laid-back and supportive parent throughout this journey. Mei’s evolution is much more fascinating to watch, because she went to foster care thinking it was just a temporary way to make extra money and it became the type of rewarding experienced that can be labeled with a price tag. She becomes so devoted to her foster children that Bun starts to feel a bit neglected in the marriage.

“Lost Love” is almost like an anthology film with segments that show the different experiences that Mei and Bun have with their foster children over the 13-year period. One of the most memorable parts of the movie is how Mei teaches a foster daughter named Fleur (played by Ng Tsz Kiu), who’s about 7 ot 8 years old, how to have confidence when she is teased and bullied by other students because of having a cleft lip. Other foster children featured in the movie are quiet Ching (played by Leoni Li), who’s about 3 years old and who learns how to make dumplings from Mei; friendly Ming (played by Jiu Kai Nam Matt), who injures him arm; mischievous brother and sister Lee Ka Long (played by Tsui Ka Him) and Lee Ka Hei (played by Tsang Yui Tung Maya); and unnamed 17-year-old biracial boy (played by Toure Muntar), who appears to be of Asian and African heritage.

“Lost Love” also has poignant references to flowers and a certain bridge, whose significance is explained at one point in the movie. The last 20 minutes of “Lost Love” are emotionally powerful. Cheng gives a quietly outstanding performance in this contemplative film that is not only about recovering from the loss of a loved one but also discovering new ways to love that are unexpected and meaningful.

Illume Films and Imagi Crystal released “Lost Love” in select U.S. cinemas on May 12, 2023. The movie was released in Hong Kong on March 2, 2023.

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