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Review: ‘Hong Kong Trilogy,’ Captures the Voices of the People


A scene from “Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous.”

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Directed by the cinematographer Christopher Doyle, “Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous” is drawn from the real voices of contemporary Hong Kong residents, a title card says. More of a poem or a city symphony than a documentary, it drifts freely, sometimes frustratingly between captured and fictionalized moments.

Structurally, the movie is as loose as some of the features that Mr. Doyle has made as a cinematographer for Wong Kar-wai (“2046”). Although “Hong Kong Trilogy” is divided into three segments, each ostensibly focusing on a different generation, the sections bleed into one another. Some characters float throughout the film.

The most cohesive section is the middle, between “Preschooled,” which focuses on the very young, and “Preposterous,” a non sequitur of a finale that deals, partly, with speed-dating seniors. “Preoccupied,” however, centers on young activists and depicts a snapshot of the Umbrella Movement, the 2014 pro-democracy uprising against Beijing’s political influence. Mr. Doyle films the tents that sprouted in the city and visits demonstration sites — including an organic farm and a wall inspired by John Lennon — that were also designed, the movie suggests, as spaces for thought.

Despite plentiful onscreen text, the film doesn’t clarify details. (You may wonder about the fate of Vodka, a child the police haul in for littering.) The free-form assembly is consistent with this movie’s utopian worldview, but the lack of narrative discipline can be trying.

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