Patrick Tam established his name as a director in 1980s Hong Kong when a new wave of young directors broke with many conventions. More recently, Tam has restricted himself to editing work by other directors although he apparently has a major impact on the end product. For instance he is generally regarded as the tutor of Wong Kar-wai. With After This Our Exile, a grand epic film, Tam returns to directing in a big way after a period of seventeen years.
The story is set in an undefined past. A former playboy (played by Aaron Kwok), who has indeed known better times, has great difficulty even maintaining his family. His wife (Charlie Yeung) is tired of the hard life and prepares to start afresh. The little son is the victim of the loveless match. He has the impossible job of keeping the family together.
So little is left of historic Hong Kong that Tam had to look for his locations elsewhere. He found them around the Malaysian town of Ipoh, which had already enjoyed a visit from Ang Lee. The choice of this tropical location filled with fading glory contributes to the specific melancholic mood of the film. A film that also seems to have its own message to give about the fall of a certain kind of cinema: the cinema of melodramatic stories born by star actors and actresses. (GjZ)