Starring: Lawrence Cheng, Louis Koo, Jocelyn Choi
Director: Herman Yau
Running Time: 92 mins
A Home With A View is a Hong Kong film about a normal albeit dysfunctional family who, despite the stresses of daily life, are able to relax with the sea view from their window. However, when the view is blocked by a massive billboard, they go to extreme lengths to get their picturesque vista back.
Hong Kong comedies are well known for being the zaniest of the zaniest, filled with an insanely hyper energy that either makes for a brilliant laugh fest, or a really shrill and irritating way to spend an hour and a half. Unfortunately, it’s the latter with A Home With A View. Although it tries to change up the atmosphere with some of its darker comedy late on, it starts off in horrifyingly irritating fashion, and struggles to recover with a frustratingly simple and occasionally even uncharacteristically grounded story.
Let’s talk about the worst thing about this film, which is without a doubt the opening act. Before the trouble with the billboard takes centre stage, the film focuses on the daily trials of its main family, from their money problems to looking after the grandparents, and the kids’ endless difficulties in adolescence.
Now, that’s not necessarily a set-up for the most enthralling film ever, but what really makes the opening act here so unbearable is just how loud and shrill it is. Made worst by totally unnecessary screaming from most of the characters – particularly the mother and daughter – A Home With A View starts off in almost unbearable fashion, both unfunny and simply infuriating from the start.
Fortunately, when the controversy about the billboard takes centre stage, we move away from the day to day shrieking of the family. Unfortunately, it’s onto something surprisingly underwhelming and even grounded, particularly given the typically zany comedic style seen in Hong Kong.
Now, this is where another major problem comes in. The story here is trying to be a little darker and blacker than something just light and silly, but the issue is that it also tries to make you laugh with a fairly ridiculous story, showing the preposterous extents to which a little neighbourhood squabble gets taken.
As a result, in order to make that side of the story entertaining, the film has to be far more zany and ridiculous, but all of the characters – particularly those that the family find themselves litigating with – are just too logical and normal to make that work. If the film was set in an apartment block that was full of either moronic or just eccentric characters, then the story’s fun factor would have been ten times greater.
Instead, the film feels a whole lot more serious and equally underwhelming, and then when the darkly comedic element comes in in the final act, it really clashes with what has up until then been a slightly more restrained film, meaning that it finishes on just as disappointing a note as it started.
Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed by A Home With A View. There is some fun to be had, and despite its horrifyingly shrill opening, it does calm down to an extent later on. With that said, it’s an annoying and somehow simultaneously underwhelming comedy, with a poorly executed story and frustrating characters that make for a disappointing watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.