20 30 40 Is a Film about Women Or a Women's Film?

Some reviewers say that 20.30.40 gives true scopes into women's emotional world. But I think this film's viewpoint is actually quite traditional. Xiajie is not sure of her homosexuality and thus overindulges in her friendship. She does not confront her problem and the director deliberately lightens it to some "girlish ignorance".

Xiangxiang is caught between waiting for true love and oscillating among her boyfriends. The problem arises solely because she cannot bear being alone. Her suspicion and manipulating of the opposite sex are worse than anyone else's. It shows that that her problem is not failing to find true love, but her suspicion of true love. She has an ideal ending, she finds her man, and what is more, her emptiness is filled. She becomes a "surrogate mother". But the ending is a wishful fulfillment of Xiangxiang's dream, and not a fulfillment of a sexual relationship. What if the man only wanted a surrogate mother for his daughter and not paying it with his love? What would happen to Xiangxiang?

Contrarily, Lily, played by Sylvia Chang, embodies what a middle-aged woman will react in her love life. Women of this age no longer have the passion of young girls and the patience for building up walls. She frankly expresses her interest in the opposite sex, but she also is well aware of her shortcomings. She does not fantasize on men who are not right for her age and character. Though she can have sexual flings with men of different ages, she is well aware of her choice and will not blame herself or the other side for it. This is the awareness and independence of a mature woman.

Though we should not ask this commercial film to act as a voice for female independence, I have the right to ask what kind of message it tries to bring out as it bills itself as a film of female awareness. On this issue, it seems Sylvia Chang is still caught between making a women's film or a film about women's issues. Sylvia Chang's films are invariably about women, but have they gone out of the frame of the male mentality and sense of value? I think there is still room for discussion.

By William Cheung

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