Written by

 

Written by

Aka: Joi sun ho

Written by Wai Kai- Fai & Au Kin-Yee

Directed by Wai Ka Fai

2009


Studio:

Theatrical: Creative Formula Ltd.

Video: Mei Ah


Featuring:

Lau Ching Wan

Kelly Lin

Mia Yan


Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Region: All

Disc Size: 21.19 GB

Feature Size: 19.65 GB

Bit Rate: 21.98 Mbps

Runtime: 85 minutes

Chapters: 13


Audio:

Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1

Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0


Subtitles:

English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), none


Extras:

• Making of – in SD (16:45)

Photo Gallery

Trailer in HD


Amaray Blu-ray case

Release Date: September 10, 2009



The Score Card


The Movie: 8

Written by is a fanciful, yet anguished study of the interminable, complex problem of grief and letting go.  It is now ten years since Melody's family was devastated in an automobile accident that left her father dead and herself blind.  Melody was a child of 12, just old enough to know what death is, but young enough to hang on to an imaginary world where things might be different.  Her mother and younger brother survived relatively unscathed, but her family still grieves.  Mother sits at the piano, unable to get through her husband's favorite piece.  Melody (Mia Yan) has been unable to accept his death or move on, and even contemplates suicide - her blindness making it that much easier for her to retain the image of her family, and especially her father, as they once were.


     


As in those stories where the dead hang around as ghosts, refusing to accept their fate, Melody and her mother (Kelly Lin) likewise cannot permit the father/husband to die.  Melody hits upon an idea that she feels will resolve the matter, one that she hopes will heal the family’s unending sorrow: She begins to write a story – her Braille typewriter becoming the transmitting vessel between the living and the dead - in which her father (Lau Ching-wan) survives the accident, but is blind, and her mother, her brother and herself had all died.  Into this fictitious world, she brings back the dead as ghosts to keep her father company.


Director Wai Ka Fai weaves a relentlessly entangled and spellbinding web of parallel stories: the one in the present universe where Melody and her mother and brother live, and the one in her novel.  Events in both worlds get out of control as nature and the fates insist on having their way, the one universe inserting itself upon the other, requiring rewrite upon rewrite, where grief compounds grief unti only two choices remain.


     


Image : 8/9

Mei Ah's AVC encode sports a moderately high bit rate on a single layer disc.  Colors are bright, yet realistic and natural.  Skin tones are superb, yet it's all so smooth I suspect some modest DNR.  Hair never quite sorts itself out and remains indistinct; edges of shirts are a bit fuzzy.  CG effects are fascinating but take their toll on image resolution.  Still, the overall impression is so engaging that it takes our mind off any anomalies and supports the idea of fantasy rather than acute pain.  I trust this is deliberate and not mere carelessness.


     


Audio & Music : 9/8

The DTS HD-MA 7.1 mix is a thing of beauty: blending delicately scored music, effects, ambiance and dialogue into a coherent whole. Surrounds are nicely localized; dialogue is crisp and correctly placed, sized and differentiated for location and voiceover.  There are a few sudden, powerful crashes that will give the full range of your playback equipment a wakeup call.  These feel more realistic than the exaggerated frequency response we often get with action or fantasy thrillers, which Written by is not, after all.  The splatter of crashing glass pulls in one direction, deep bass in the other, while all the while Mia Yan's affecting voiceover and an enveloping piano hold everything together. Surrounds come into play nicely for death's trolley car, the chirping of birds at the cemetery and whirling fantasy bits in the graveyard of ghosts.


     


Operations : 2

Typical of many Asian videos, particularly Chinese, is the tendency to loud previews, logos and feature film.  But Written by goes one better, by having the Making of volume louder still in comparison to the feature - you will want to keep your remote handy.  The very short Photo Gallery is a bear trap that you might find very difficult to get out of once in. Feature film subtitles, on the other hand, are clear and unobtrusive, in idiomatic English.


     


Extras : 3

The 16-minute Making-of segment looks promising – largely a series of interviews interspersed with scenes from the film – but there are no subtitles. (Actually, there are subtitles, they're just not in English and are not removable.) The trailer is in full HD and looks great.  The Photo Gallery should be given a miss if you know what's good for you (you've been warned.)


     


Recommendation : 8

Written by is directed by and stars the same men who gave us Mad Detective: Wai Ka Kai and Lau Ching Wan, but don't let that influence you one way or the other except that both films are quirky and imaginative for their respective genres.  The new movie is not especially profound even though it's subject invites a deeper or, at least, less fanciful examination – but, then, this would be asking the movie to be something it isn't.  I liked it and expect to watch it again before very long.


The Blu-ray image is a delight, if not perfectly resolved, but the audio is very good indeed.  Despite its awkward operations and lack of extra features, I give Written by a Thumbs Up.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 8, 2009



     







         
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