Eve & the Fire Horse
Eve & the Fire Horse
Directed: Julia Kwan
Language: English, Cantonese
Eve (Phoebe Jojo Kut), a precocious nine year-old with an overactive imagination, was born in the Year of the Fire Horse, notorious among Chinese families for producing the most troublesome children. Dinners around Eve's family table are a raucous affair, where old world propriety and new world audacity mix in even measure. But as summer approaches, it seems like Eve's carefree childhood days are behind her.
When her mother chops down their apple tree - a superstitious omen - bad luck worms its way into their family in unexpected, tragic ways. Forced to grow up too fast, Eve learns to take pleasure in life's small gifts - like a goldfish she believes to be the reincarnated spirit of her beloved grandmother. Meanwhile, Eve's older sister Karena is going through changes of her own, exploring a newfound fascination with Christianity. Soon, crucifixes pop up next to the Buddha in the family's house, and Eve must contend with a Sunday school class where her wild imagination is distinctly out of place.
Caught between her sister's quest for premature sainthood and her own sense of right and wrong, Eve faces the challenges of childhood with fanciful humor and wide-eyed wonder. A lyrical, lighthearted look at a young girl's spiritual experience, EVE & THE FIRE HORSE offers a wondrous yet deeply felt journey, where family life is strange, childhood lonely and religion perplexing.
Movie ReviewsFirst-time director Kwan has created an ambitious but uneven work. Though she wrote an award-winning script, the finished film feels like a series of childhood vignettes strung together by narrator Eve. The first half of the film is the strongest, as Eve's close relationship with her grandmother rings true and her sorrow touches us. In the background, her mother May-Ling struggles with depression following her miscarriage, which is starkly presented here.
However, the film loses direction and speed as it delves into the Christian story. There seems to be no point to her religious conversion, and her parents offer no opposition to her faith, which robs the film of conflict.
Renowned for a string of acclaimed short films, Kwan effectively creates atmosphere, taking us into Eve's dream world through fantasy sequences that sometimes lapse into whimsy, sometimes charm. This film is an acceptable debut but it works episodically, not as a whole. Not a must see.