Lilting could have been a routine melodrama with a couple good performances, but it reaches deeper grounds by exploring just what it means to connect with another person. Ben Wishaw plays a young Englishman who is still mourning his boyfriend’s death. The deceased’s elderly mother (Pei-pei Cheng) never adapted to British culture after immigrating, never learned her son was gay, and speaks no English. She lives in a nursing home, where she has forged a romance with a man (Peter Bowles) with whom she shares no common language.
Wishaw’s character hires a translator to help her communicate with her boyfriend. The translator is the key to Lilting’s power. She serves as a dramatical pivot, allowing Wishaw and Cheng to reach greater emotional heights than they would if they spoke the same language. That power helps the film earn its emotional payoff with strong characters and unguarded sincerity.
Director: Hong Khaou
Writer: Hong Khaou
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Pei-pei Cheng, Morven Christie, Peter Bowles
Production Details: 91 minutes