Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dearest Anita is a loving fan tribute to an admirable personality (Film review)

Poster for the first Hong Kong movie 
I viewed in 2019
Dearest Anita (Hong Kong, 2019)
- Clifton Ko and Leung Pak Ho, co-directors
- Starring: Sonija Kwok, Myolie Wu, Paris Wong, Alex Lam, Yuki Fong, Elvina Kong 
Have you ever been touched and/or inspired by a star, sent him or her fanmail or presents, met your idol and even been a friend before you became a fan?  If so, you should be able to relate to the main characters -- all purportedly based on real people -- in Dearest Anita, a loving cinematic tribute to the late Anita Mui Yim Fong conceived by her dedicated fan club, Mui Nation, that was released just a few days after the 15th anniversary of the singer-actress' death.
Back in late 2013, a number of personal items belonging to Anita Mui were auctioned off by the late star's estate (against the will of her mother, among others).  At the auction, die-hard fans of the entertainment idol often referred to as "Mui Chea" (Elder Sister Mui) successfully outbid others seeking to get their hands on those items.  In addition, as Dearest Anita shows, they also managed to salvage a good percentage of those of Anita Mui's belongings that had been declared not valuable enough to auction off and consequently thrown away as trash.  

Among Anita Mui's possessions rescued from a dumpster and found in large bags at a nearby secondhand store by the team of fans headed by Edith (Sonija Kwok) were items given to the star by her fans.  While most entertainment luminaries didn't care for -- and tended to readily discard -- their devotees' offerings, it appeared that the object of the Mui Nation's affection was very different -- and, in fact, kept every single item that those who adored her sent to her in a room in her home in Shoushon Hill.
Rather than sell them or keep them for themselves, Edith and co go about returning those gifts -- be they a letter, a photograph in a handmade frame, a script for a play about Anita Mui or something else altogether -- they had managed to salvage to the fans who had sent them to their idol.  Over the course of doing so, they connect with other Anita Mui fans who, grateful and happy that the woman they adored had cared enough to see those offerings as the tokens of affection that they are, recollect and share their warm memories and often moving stories of Mui Chea (portrayed in the film by Elvina Kong, whose shot in such a way that her face is never seen and/but whose speaking voice sounds remarkably like Anita Mui's).
Almost needless to say, Dearest Anita will appeal most to fans of Anita Mui.  At the same time though, those who weren't her fans at the beginning of the film might well be by the end of it.  For one thing, the movie shows how Mui Chea helped a young man (played by Alex Lam) who lost his father to SARS to continue to pursue his goal of becoming a professional musician.  For another, it also shows how good she was to her friends (including one played by Myolie) and fans (including one played by Yuki Fong). 
If nothing else, Dearest Anita makes clear how Anita Mui could come to be seen as a noble "Daughter of Hong Kong" and the kind of figure that a teacher (Paris Wong) could be inspired to write and stage a play about.  And even if this movie can undoubtedly appear to be on the hokey side at times, it's also true that a number of its more touching scenes are well capable of moving people (like me!) to tears. ;b
My rating for this film: 7.0 


Samson said...


Great review! Sounds like a loving tribute and a film for everyone who has listened to Mui's music, attended her concerts or seen her films. Unfortunately, I don't think this one will be picked up for distribution in my part of the world. So I will just have to wait for the DVD!

Do you know if there is a 'Dearest Leslie' in the pipeline?

YTSL said...

Hi Samson --

Thanks! Something I forgot to mention in my review is that a few Anita Mui songs can be heard in the movie and actually have English subtitles for their lyrics -- which was lovely!

And no, I haven't heard of a "Dearest Leslie" film in the pipeline. I'd watch that if they made it though!