Directed by: #JennyWan
Film review by: Brian Penn
Two lost souls connecting during a taxi journey has been played out for real many times over the years. In Lonely Encounter two men from different sides of life find empathy in the loneliness they feel. Keung (Tsang Man Wei) is coming to terms with an empty life and fills the void working as a taxi driver. He finds a fare in the shape of art student Hei (Lam Yau Hin). Winter Solstice night is traditionally a time to celebrate with family; both men have their reasons for being anywhere but home.
Hei is at a proverbial loose end as nobody seems to want or need his company. The realisation dawns that he must get back to college and hails down a taxi. As they motor through the streets of Hong Kong the driver reverts to type and gets his passenger to talk. Hei is estranged from a distant and cold family in Macau. Keung cannot understand why he would trek so far to study. Education seems a convenient excuse to put some distance between him and the problem. Keung is getting used to being alone and fixates on the number 22; the day that evidently proved to be a turning point in his life.
The film gently teases out the characters back story as a cautionary tale lays bare the dangers of solitude. The juxtaposition is cleverly drawn as a paradox becomes more obvious. They are both consumed by loneliness but arrived via completely different routes. Keung, an older man had the condition thrust upon him; while Hei is a young man who positively embraces the feeling. Friction in the narrative is however subtle and only sinks in once the film ends. There are minor quibbles, like white subtitles appearing over a white table cloth making them almost impossible to read. But this remains an intelligent piece that doesn’t feel the need to pack dialogue into every scene; less can sometimes amount to much more.