Set in 1999 Wisdom Tooth is a drama about a brother and sister who are trying to eke out a life in a tough situation. This is not helped by the introduction of a woman into their lives which changes their lives forever.
Xi is a shy and introverted young woman who has been seemingly been raised by her older brother Liang. They work hard to live a life together until events sync up that cause serious issues. Xi needs money for her paper ahead of the census and Liang’s regular job of fishing is under threat due to oil spillage.
Enter their friend Dong who can give Liang side jobs to help out. This starts innocently enough but as the film progresses we learn there may be a more sinister element to these “errands”. While Xi worries about her brother a new woman enters their lives. Qing is a young brash woman that has something of a meet-cute with Liang and after he dubs her “Ms. Dashing” she seems to ingratiate herself into their lives. Xi doesn’t know how to deal with these feelings, worrying that her brother might leave her and realising for the first time in her life she may be alone.
It may be called Wisdom Tooth but it didn’t hurt
Wisdom Tooth is a drama centred around the fear of being alone. Liang and Xi clearly care for each other. Liang is protective of his little sister and quick to anger if he feels she is threatened. It makes it interesting that when Qing shows up and is a perceived danger to Xi for the family dynamic Liang doesn’t notice because maybe he has found someone else to care about. There is nothing seemingly wrong with Qing so seeing her bond with Liang and Xi is quite heartfelt.
There are wonderfully quiet moments between the three and though at times they’re tinged with a sense of dread because you’re worried someone will be hurt eventually you are still drawn into these relationships.
This is a testament to director Liang Ming’s writing. You feel Xi’s dread as the stress of potentially losing her brother is getting to her. I was worried for their bond as the events of the film escalated.
Like pulling a tooth
There were issues that crept into Wisdom Tooth. There is a second plotline involving Liang and Dong and if I’m being honest it didn’t need to be there it cluttered the world of the film. Director Liang Ming also utilises dreams to convey Xi’s state of mind and that wasn’t fully successful. The main reason for me that there are one too many dream sequences.
The East Asia Film Festival Ireland has been a godsend this year. since I’ve been starving for great film. As I look back on it I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable and if there are more digital festivals like this in Ireland’s future I say bring them on.
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