Monday, August 24, 2020

Fantasia 2020.04: Baby: The Secret Diary of a Mom to Be

Like I mentioned yesterday, sometimes it's hard to get screeners on the weekend, and that's before I took a large chunk of the day writing up shorts and then deciding that I was going to do my usual Sunday crosswords for a couple hours or so. A bummer, because the one movie I watched turned out to be a bit of a minor disappointment. Secret Diary of a Mom to Be isn't bad, but it's not as good as Jody Luk's first film and just generally feels like it should be better if she wasn't playing straight down the middle so often but instead went for the bigger laugh or odder circumstance more often.

Ah, well. No baseball tonight so plenty of time for the stuff already being lined up.

Baby: The Secret Diary of a Mom to Be

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 23 August 2020 in Jay's Living Room (Fantasia Festival, Vimeo via Roku)

It's probably not a great sign that the bits that caught my attention in The Secret Diary of a Mom to Be weren't really anything to do with the story but random things I didn't know about life in Hong Kong, like how professional athletes don't make a lot of money and how one of the things they ask at your job interview is your preferred method for entering Chinese characters into a computer. It's a sign of how observant she is and how she's able to spin a movie out of little things, but it would be nice if the material at the center was as interesting as the stuff at the edges.

That center contains Carmen Yau (Dada Chan Ching), a PR manager at a Hong Kong sports stadium, and her husband Oscar Ching (Kevin Chu Kam-Yin), star of the basketball team that plays there. Carmen is up for a promotion to manage the company's facility in Vietnam, and doesn't figure anything will stand in the way - though all of her best friends are either pregnant or recent mothers, she's got a highly irregular period that makes conception very unlikely. But not, it turns out, impossible, and while her friends and co-workers are thrilled for her, she's not close to sure, especially once mother-in-law Margaret (Candice Yu On-On) finds out, bringing her friend Tam Yuk-Wing (Louis Cheung Kai-Chung), a popular childbirth consultant, in to help manage her pregnancy.

Margaret and Tam aren't the only people who feel free to make decisions for Carmen once they find out she's pregnant, and it's the seed for a potentially interesting story, as is Oscar feeling that he's got to become the family breadwinner now but not really equipped for it. Writer/director Jody Luk Yi-Sam doesn't exactly have much of a story lined up here, though - Carmen's job recedes into the background, Oscar picks up a new group of expecting/recent father friends ("Baba Club") to match Carmen's besties, and the movie becomes something of a split hangout picture with occasional bits of the couple together grousing about how the other doesn't understand. Eventually there's an well-worn suspected-infidelity plot to bring things to a climax that even the characters don't seem to believe in.

Full review at eFilmCritic

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