The Seventh Lie: James Hung’s Self-Deception Story
Director James Hung weaves together four Hong Kong stories that explore how everyday citizens deal with dirty secrets and psychological deception.
The film’s tagline is: “Do you lie?” And the synopsis takes it further: “Lying is a universal language, spoken and understood by 7 billion people. None of us can evade the jinx of The Seventh Lie – Self Deception.”
Written and directed by James Hung, the film The Seventh Lie (Loi Noi Doi Thu 7) tackles betrayal, deception. The cynicism of human nature, and hypocritical social norms through four interwoven stories. First, there’s Chauffer Song (Chung Him Law), also a part-time killer, who plays caretaker to his friend’s neglected wife, Julianne (Peggy Tseng) but might have ulterior intentions. There’s a sneaky hotel “bell hop” (Ronald Cheng) who is actually a thief masquerading as a bell hop, attempting to rip off hotel guests, including a woman having an affair (played by Josie Ho). There’s runaway bride Gwen (Evelyn Choi) who seeks out her ex-boyfriend (Alex Lam). A psychic she believes can predict her future. And lastly, there’s the story of Uncle Bing (Shiu Hung Hui). And a murder that could be covered up in exchange for a large sum of money.
All those seemingly-unassociated souls have one thing in common: they all hide appalling truths behind their lies. The film boasts an atypical narrative structure, as the four stories are almost independent, only loosely connected by an unexpected relationship (Gwen’s ex-boyfriend is Uncle Bing’s son) or even just two characters from different stories being at the same place at the same time.
According to writer/director Hung, his script was completely driven by the complexity of its characters. Which may be why the plot may seem loose at times. “I didn’t want to just create characters to serve the plot,” he says. “I simply allowed my characters to grow and transform along with the world around them.”
He was drawn to these characters and intrigued by how they would react when trapped by their lies. “Lying is like a taboo,” says Hung. “No one talks about it, but everyone understands it.”
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hung came to Los Angeles to study film and worked for the post-production company Technicolor. Seeing a generational gap in Hong Kong’s film industry between the older and younger filmmakers, Hung felt he would have something to offer in Hong Kong. Upon his return, he worked for TVB as an associate director, before he decided to embark on his own film project.
The Seventh Lie is shot entirely on location in Hong Kong. Which not only helps to depict an authentic picture of Hong Kong society. But also provided challenges that forced the team to get creative. For example, during shooting, the team had to adapt with the changing weather of Hong Kong’s summer, and as a result. So they made great use of the natural rain and ponds to create a refreshing aesthetic effect.
After the film’s special screening at Los Angeles’ Director’s Guild of America on March 15, a Q&A with the filmmaker followed, hosted by Qingyun Ma, the dean of USC’s School of Architecture. Much of the discussion centered around art director Rose Hung’s background in architecture and the way she utilized the spaces to serve the narrative. “We tried to introduce all the characters through space and camera movements,” said Rose Hung. About the various types of shots planned specifically to create an immersion of emotions.
In The Seventh Lie (phim hong kong). So director James Hung shows a strong personal style and an experimental spirit. Influenced by David Lynch, Hung attempts to mix genres. “Film is all about ambiguity,” says Hung. “It does not have an owner. So the audience has absolute freedom to interpret it. ”
In Hung’s mind, art should not cater to specific audiences or markets. But instead should emerge from the creator’s passion and speak for him or herself. That said, he is open to criticism: “It is interesting to learn how audiences interact and react to the film. “