East End Film Festival: Lilting

Lilting is a modern classic romance- in the timeless way that films like Brief Encounter live on,  it'll soon spread by word of mouth to unsuspecting film buffs and make the 'top ten LGBT films to see' lists in the coming years.  Starring the endearing Ben Whishaw as Richard, Lilting tells the story of the loss of Richard's partner Kai,  and how he longs to share his grief with Kai's Cambodian-Chinese mother.  They do not share a common language, but Richard recruits an amateur translator who struggles to bring Richard's profound grief to light without dealing with the secret we dance around- that Kai was gay.

The film, although clouded in grief and sorrow from the beginning to end, is utterly charming. You are locked into a time warp with Kai's mother, Junn, expertly played by Pei-pei Cheung, with heartbreaking dreamy flashbacks of Kai visiting, that arrive unannounced to break into her day.  Whishaw is greeted with frosty suspicion, and he hovers in the background, keen to hold onto any link with the ultimate love of his life.  The film is set in contemporary London- flitting between Richard's hectic flat and the vintage-themed care home Junn now resides in.  

The struggle to connect the two vastly conflicting cultures palpitates throughout the film, with a concluding crescendo which burns brightly and passionately, breaking the barriers between Richard and Junn, where a common language is found in the grief that they share for the person they most cared about.