Starring: Meng Tingyi, Moses Chan, Candy Cheung
Director: Amos Why
Running Time: 89 mins
Dot 2 Dot is a Hong Kong film about a Chinese woman who moves to Hong Kong as a Mandarin teacher, and on her initial walks around the city, discovers a series of mysterious patterns on the walls of stations, so she decides to find out what they’re all about.
A film may have decent visuals, a light atmosphere and good performances, but Dot 2 Dot presents one of those occasions when the idea at hand just isn’t that interesting. Although better writing and more could easily make such a premise more engaging, this film rarely manages to grab your attention, and with a very slow and quiet vibe throughout, it’s difficult to not get bored.
However, let’s start off with some of the positives, the biggest of which is that the film is a lovely depiction of the city of Hong Kong. All too often do films both from and outside the territory present the place as a hectic and insane metropolis, and although that may very well be the case (I’ve never been there myself), it’s nice to see something a little calmer, and that’s exactly what this film does.
As a result, that opens up more of an opportunity for the characters’ stories to be at the centre of the story, rather than the city’s own mad atmosphere. On the one hand, it does manage to do that, and we get a lot of insight into the personal lives of the film’s two main characters, the Mandarin teacher and a fellow staff member, who participates in her classes.
With that said, the depth of the story is where the film really starts to fall apart. As pleasant as it is as a love letter to the city, and despite having two lead performances from Meng Tingyi and Moses Chan that emulate that calm vibe, Dot 2 Dot misses the mark simply because it doesn’t provide an interesting and deep enough story to fully engross you.
The problems here are twofold. Firstly, the story that centres on the woman discovering these mysterious dot patterns is treated as way too much of a big deal. The film starts off on a moderately interesting note as we learn more and more about her background and personal life, but the fact that this mission to find the meaning of these dots takes complete control of the story just isn’t that engrossing in comparison.
The film’s other main character, although also party to the mystery of the dot patterns, gets a little bit more of his personal life fleshed out on screen, but again, it’s not done as effectively as it can be. With a couple of melodramatic sequences that seem way out of character for the film, and the fact the moments in which his story is focused on are far less common throughout the movie, means that you can’t really engage with him that much either.
On the whole, despite having a pleasant atmosphere that presents the city of Hong Kong in a different light, Dot 2 Dot is an unfortunately dull watch due to a poorly focused story that doesn’t really allow you to form a strong connection with the film’s characters, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.3.