Lost in Another City

By Isa Ho

For a film whose title features the word ‘city’, some might not initially view Another City as a work that is overtly about urbanity. Where are the wide shots of the cityscape? The implementation of the city’s many noises? The evocation of its bustling crowds? The film does not delve directly into the physicality of urban space, but instead chooses to do so through the mind of its characters. Each character, with relationships and backstories only alluded to rather than directly conveyed, stands as more of an abstract than a fully-fledged person. Yet the distance this creates between the viewer and the character only serves to reinforce the sense of alienation that saturates the film. The city does not rise, as it often does in urban-centric works, to the level of a character in itself. Rather, its effects are embodied in the characters, in its impact on their lives.Water seeps through the cracks of the film’s cityscape, both reminding the characters of what they lose in the city, and perhaps as a symbol of hope for the future. On the back wall of a doctor’s office, as he informs a bride-to-be on the state of her private parts in the most matter-of-fact language, sits a framed image of the waterfall. In the cold, clinical blues and beiges of the office, the painting is a strange pop of life, its colours at once a match for the cool décor and yet at the same time completely different in what it depicts. In the end, it is depicted as unifying, a suspended slice of time that brings together these souls in conflict.

Still from Another City, Dir. Pham Ngoc Lan