According to an old Eastern saying: “Memory is to the past what destiny is to the future. Both are certain. Both are concrete.”
Which means that…uh…I forgot what I was going to say.
Poh Mun (newcomer Cynthia Chan) probably wishes she could forget certain things. Like Han Ze (Zheng Ting Wang), for instance, the monk with whom she had a forbidden love affair as a peasant girl in China. Living now as an illegal immigrant in Melbourne with her seemingly benign Uncle San (Robert Yung), the still sheltered girl soon finds herself an unwitting bargaining chit in her uncle’s shady dealings with the underworld. The trauma that results is something else the unfortunate girl would like to be able to forget.
“Days of Being” explores such hefty themes as family and reincarnation, yet does so in such a way so as to not come across as too pedantic or heavy-handed. The film’s structure is a little on the shaky side with regard to its use of flashbacks. One isn’t entirely sure, given Han Ze’s repeated references to reincarnation, if the events in China and Australia are both happening to Poh Mun at different times in this lifetime, or if her forbidden love affair occurred in a past life. This unfortunately distracts from the film and makes it more difficult to focus on the looming danger her uncle presents.
Director Chi Yen Ooi has nonetheless crafted a captivating and enchanting tale, made even more so by the film’s splendid cinematography. Though the specifics may confuse, viewers will always remember “Days of Being.”