Ab-normal Beauty (2005) – movie review

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Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Race Wong, Rosanne Wong, Anson Leung, Michelle Mee
Director: Oxide Pang

This thought provoking Asian thriller/artistic flick will have you admiring its beauty one minute and wincing at its brutality the next.

Young artist Jin (Race Wong) is tortured by her sado-masochistic relationship with her mother and always attracts trouble. After witnessing a car crash she develops a disturbing obsession with death and physical pain. Allowing this to colour her artwork and photography until it takes over her artistic and personal life, the obsession puts her quasi lesbian relationship with her friend Jas (Rosanne Wong) to the test and confuses the unwanted attentions of male admirer Anson (Anson Leung). But the unpredictable and manipulative Jin is a dangerous person to know and she must deal with her past and overcome her obsession before people get hurt and things take a far more sinister turn…

This film has a lot of beautiful things in it. The lead actress, the gorgeous soundtrack swinging between the stripped down simplistic beauty of a bare piano and the petrifying terror of loud rock, and the very colours of the moods of the film itself. Switching between red, blue, orange and green to match events and Jin’s mood, there are very few calms in the storm when the screen is natural and bright.

What initially starts out as an artistic psychological flick turns violently halfway into a psychological THE RING type brutal horror, but whilst both genres by themselves within the film are fantastic this crossing of genre does not sit successfully and feels like two films meshed into one.

However, the performances, soundtrack, photography and the use of music and colour in the film, along with the pacing, are excellent and there are genuine moments of terror and edginess all the way through. It did lose the plot for a bit during the genre confusion and the arrival of a vicious video tape, but it is a genuinely exciting, brutal and beautiful, thriller.

5 out of 6 stars