Why Anita is an amazing, heart-wrenching tribute to the late Hong Kong diva

·3-min read
Louise Wong as Anita Mui in Hong Kong biopic film Anita. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)
Louise Wong as Anita Mui in Hong Kong biopic film Anita. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)

Anita is a Hong Kong biographical film about Cantopop diva Anita Mui, depicting her life from childhood until her last moments on stage, before cervical cancer took her away from this world in 2003.

Dubbed as the “daughter of Hong Kong,” Mui is best known for her contralto voice, singing iconic songs such as Sunset Melody, Flower Woman, and Intimate Lover. It has been almost two decades since her death, but she is still and will always be dearly missed. Here’s why the film Anita is the best way to remember the diva:

1. Newbie actress Louise Wong did a spectacular imitation of Mui.

Hong Kong model Louise Wong makes her movie debut with an exceptional portrayal of Mui. Apart from her uncanny resemblance to Mui, especially when she sports a pixie cut, the way she talks and carries herself in the film is also very similar to Mui, as if the diva herself is really there. This becomes even more apparent when the film shows actual snippets of Mui, slotted in between Wong’s re-enacted scenes.

The only issue is the film has been dubbed in Mandarin, so some of the emotions may have been lost. The Mandarin dub appears awkward at times, when the voice and emotions don't match the character. I can only imagine how much better it would have been to watch the film in Cantonese.

Terrance Lau as Leslie Cheung in Hong Kong biopic film Anita. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)
Terrance Lau depicts Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui's best friend. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)

2. Several famous Hong Kong actors, such as Louis Koo, Gordon Lam and Miriam Yeung, are part of the cast.

Throughout Mui’s life, she met various pivotal people who gave her career a boost. Some of these characters include Mui’s fashion designer and close friend Eddie Lau (Louis Koo); the executive of records company Capital Artists So Hau Leung (Gordon Lam); and talent agent of Capital Artists Florence Chan (Miriam Yeung). Among them, Eddie Lau plays the most significant role in the film, forming an invisible yet strong support in her life.

3. It depicts the setbacks that Mui faced behind all the glamour.

While what we often see is how a star dazzles on the stage, the film portrays the hardships unbeknownst to many. In fact, Mui had a tough life, having to provide for her family since she was four. Even when she became popular, she was faced with other sets of challenges involving her love life, and of course, her illness. There were times when she had to bear with the pain from cancer to continue performing, saying, “The show must go on.”

The film is structured linearly, showing various milestones in Mui’s life. Through Wong’s portrayal of Mui’s transition from a young adult till before her death, you can also see how her costumes and make-up change over time. As Mui was known for her bold and ever-changing styles, it was interesting to see how they were re-created in the film, such as the wedding dress that Mui wore during her final concert.

Louis Koo as Eddie Lau and Louise Wong as Anita Mui in Hong Kong biopic film Anita. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)
Louis Koo plays Anita Mui’s fashion designer and close friend Eddie Lau. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing)

4. It features Mui’s best friend Leslie Cheung, who took his own life the same year Mui passed away.

The highlight of the film would have to be Mui’s story with Leslie Cheung (Terrance Lau), who was another Cantopop sensation during the 1980s. Cheung was not only Mui’s best friend, but he had also been referred to as her family. The film depicts how they met, and how they supported each other at different points of their careers. The most heartbreaking part is, even though they were each burdened by their own illnesses, they did not reveal their plights to each other for fear of worrying the other party.

Directed by Longman Leung, Anita is showing in theatres in Singapore and Malaysia.

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