The Home Song Stories

"Extraordinary"

The Home Song Stories Review


The Home Song Stories is Tony Ayres' divulgence of the most traumatizing, deeply personal events of his childhood. It's not often that a director summons the courage to bare his soul, but in Ayres' case, Stories isn't so much a film for self-expression as it is an experiment to better understand his late, manic-depressive mother. Whether you walk out of the theater hating, loving, or sympathizing for the director's mother, Stories succeeds in enabling you to see through the eyes of an angry, confused little boy -- who continues to exist in Ayres today with a broken heart.

Stories centers on Rose (Joan Chen), a Chinese nightclub singer struggling to raise two children in '70s Australia. A needy woman who demands constant attention, she goes through men like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. Rejection is completely unacceptable: Dump Rose and she'll attempt suicide, only to be discovered unconscious by her daughter and son.

It's heart wrenching to imagine children facing a sight as horrific as their dying mother, and Ayres injects the perfect amount of tension into these scenes to recreate the experience. Most interesting is the evolution of the children: They exhibit an extraordinary amount of patience toward their mom, but with each of Rose's suicide attempts, we see the brother (Joel Lok) and sister (Irene Chen) grow more frustrated, and a little jaded, as their innocence gets chipped away.

Ayres shoots Stories beautifully, setting a morose, rustic mood overall. The plot is linear, with the exception of a single flashback to Rose's childhood, which offers a glimpse into her psychoses. This scene is effective but not quite substantial enough to justify Rose's irresponsible actions. The ellipsis in the film is powerful in that it makes us share the director's desire, and perhaps frustration, to know more about his mysterious mother.

Though Stories is autobiographical, it manages to explore very relevant, prominent issues in Chinese culture. In traditional Chinese families, parents give males strongly favorable treatment since they possess the ability to pass on the family name. Rose is the embodiment of a neglected, repressed Chinese female, brought up to believe she has very little self-worth. As a result, she's extremely self-centered as an adult, relying on the affection and attention of men for self-validation; she treats her children as accessories that exist to represent her.

Ayres refers to this film as the story of his childhood, but interestingly the title contains the plural "stories." It's appropriate, too, because it's not just his story: It's a story of the archetypical Asian-immigrant mother, and it's a story of her second-generation children. Many in the Asian-American or Australian community will see at least a fragment of Rose in their mothers -- and they might walk away from Stories with a better understanding of themselves.

Not exactly "YMCA."



Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 23rd August 2007

Distributed by: Dendy Films

Production compaines: Spark Script Workshop, Film Finance, Film Victoria, Mediacorp Raintree Pictures, SBS Independent, Fortissimo Films, Big & Little Films Pty. Ltd., Porchlight Films, ScreenWest, Lotterywest, The New South Wales Film and Television Office, Australian Film Board

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tony Ayres

Producer: Michael McMahon, Liz Watts

Starring: as Rose Hong / Hong Meigui, Yuwu Qi as Joe, Joel Lok as Tom, Irene Chen as May, as Bill, as Norma, Gabrielle Chan as Winnie, Guang Qiao Fenh as Young May, Leo Fong as Wen Xuan, as Bing Guo, Philip Lau as Chan, Fred Lee as Slick Chinese Man, Yang Li as Mr. Sun, Ivy Mak as Kim, Annette Shun Wah as Adult May

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.