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Goodbye Mammie (1986)

Goodbye Mammie (1986)

Goodbye Mammie (1986) is a 1986 Hong Kong comedy/drama film written by Raymond To and directed by David Lam, starring Fan Siu-Wong, Wu Ma, Deanie Ip.

The directorial debut of David Lam, one of many even directors coming out of Hong Kong cinema, his streak started here with melodrama.

He would go on to punish hostesses in Girls Without Tomorrow 1992 and provide some of the most violent moments in a Hong Kong woman in prison movie (aptly titled Women's Prison). Having his debut produced by Sammo Hung, Goodbye Mammie is unusually well-thought out and reserved considering it's the Terminal illness melodrama.

Award-winning singer actress Deanie Ip gets into tear-jerking mode again after The Unwritten Law!

Produced by Sammo Hung, the 1986 drama marks the directorial debut of David Lam (Woman Prison, Hong Kong Gigolo), who directs from a script by revered playwright To Kwok Wai (I Have a Date with Spring, The Mad Phoenix). Here, Deanie has some great co-stars in Simon Yam, Alfred Cheung, and a bunch of young actors like Wong Yue Man, a teenage Fan Siu Wong and Hung Tin Cheung (son of Sammo).

Synopsis

After her husband's death, Sally takes over.

She works and helps educate her 10-year-old son Andy.

Andy is rather weak in character.

That worries Sally.

One day out of the blue comes the Thunderbolt. Sally is to be found to have leukemia and has only six months to live. Turning a deaf ear to Andy's cries, she sends him to an orphanage to learn to be independent. Andy is extremely anguished.

Cast

  • Deannie Yip

  • Wong Yue-Man

  • Simon Yam

  • Fan Siu-Wong

  • Eric Yeung

  • Chun Wong

  • Jimmy Hung

  • Cliff Lok & Wu Fung

Review

Sally (Deanie Ip) has been raising her son, On (Wong Yue Man), on her own since the death of her husband.

One day, she is diagnosed to have leukemia, and has only six months to live.

Worried that after she dies, On would be too meek to fend for himself, she makes the painful decision to send him to the orphanage, so as to learn to grow more independent.

The 10-year-old boy, not knowing his mother's illness, is reluctant to leave her, and hates her for "dumping" him...

Liza (Deannie Yip) is a fashion designer and a single mother to 10-year-old On (Wong Yue-Man).

Having found out that she has cancer and about 6 months left to live, Liza puts On in an orphanage run by Cheung (Simon Yam) in order for his future to possibly secured.

His real-life father (Cliff Lok) has a way too busy, lower class life but this decision by Liza isn't particularly well planned out.

In fact, it's an irrational one which means the mother and son both have crucial life lessons to learn...

Establishing early in a very crucial scene the love and correct tactics Liza uses to calm her son and keep matters playful, despite the subsequent BIG signal that tragedy is looming, director Lam in a surprising movie keeps his main themes rather subdued.

In On's eyes, mom may be Superman but those days are coming to a close and Liza's way of living in the moment creates the most heartbreaking, ill decisions she makes over the course of the movie.

The orphanage, where the majority of the movie is set in, isn't entirely an inappropriate environment to live in though.

These abandoned children stick together, fight together, are up to no good together but here's the uplifting spirit of the movie coming on as these kids have built up tough character-shells.

No doubt still vulnerable kids but this center piece of Goodbye Mammie (1986) is very rich.

Shooting in seemingly real locations, Lam achieves a terrific realism and atmosphere within the grounds of the orphanage in particular. As mentioned, a rich depth can be found within it too. The adult on a deadline leaves On that also is on a deadline. You either sink into a shell of nothing after you find out you've basically been abandoned and lied to or you showcase a strength you thought you never had that will carry you through all the subsequent challenges of life you're faced with, as a kid or an adult. Learning of responsibility (On being asked to raise his own chickens is the main symbolism of this), discipline, brotherhood and chivalry, these neither obnoxious or cutesy kids aren't too adult for the movie either. Director Lam therefore shows a keen understanding of children and has a fine sense of directing them naturally as well.

In an adult way re-uniting the very flawed adult character of Liza with the stronger On (who learns empathy all on his own, in particular towards the young robber played by Fan Siu-Wong of Story Of Ricky fame) in the later stages of the film, it's two reaching a common, final understanding and bond that doesn't ever flow into the high pitched melodrama you would expect from a Hong Kong drama.

That's why it's suitable Goodbye Mammie isn't a tearjerker as it's busier getting us and characters with into an uplifting mood.

With believable performances from Deannie Yip, little Wong Yue-Man (who interacts with bees and snakes in quite the brave way too) and Simon Yam as an important aid for these two, Goodbye Mammie is quite a superb, unknown, rare breed of its kind.

A family Melodrama that isn't sad that is.

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