Drama, Films, Hong Kong, Recommended posts, Reviews, Shorts

Fresh Wave 2015: The Cow Caretaker

A whimsical but uninvolving tale of human friendship…

The anxiety over what a post-University life will produce is a relatable one; what job will I – could I – get in the wide, competitive world? The thought of Cow Caretaker never crossed my mind, but that’s what Ting (DeAngelis Chan), the protagonist at the centre of this short-film, see’s as her calling. Disheartened by regular news reports in which free-roaming cows are killed in car accidents, Ting does all she can to save the cows of Lantau Island and, in doing so, develops a close friendship with the local caretaker, Sunset (Ng Siu Hin).

Ting’s particular emotional attachment to the cows is, astonishingly, never explained nor even given a moments notice. She feels sorry for them getting killed, as we all might, but do we all go out of our way to raise cow security funds and embrace a lifetime of cow labour? I certainly haven’t, and there a lot of cows in my home county. Ting’s time interacting with cow’s is actually non-existent, so don’t expect the spectacle of cows to fill your screen. These omissions generate a gap at the core of the story where the sentiment should be, and a coherent sense of believability in the motivations and actions is lacking.

Still, what it lacks in narrative logic it redeems in its whimsical and sprightly portrayal of a girl finding solace in becoming a guardian of nature. Director, Lui Kin-lok, appears fascinating by the clash between nature and nurture – the image of cows roaming free in developed road areas is certainly a remarkable one. Indeed, his sense of composition is accomplished and, alongside some decent acting performances, this is what makes his film consistently watchable. Unfortunately, the narrative and story always feels slight, tenuous and frustratingly uninvolving.

The Cow Caretaker is part of our regular series looking at films from the Hong Kong Short Film Competition 2015. Join us every Wednesday for another short film.

About the author

David Hughes
A Film Studies student at King’s College London who happens to love Asian cinema, David also works for Live for Films and considers Jackie Chan to be a genius of cinema. More »
Read all posts by David Hughes

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