Director: James Lee | 70 minutes | drama | Actors: Loh Bok Lai, Bernice Chauly, Len Siew Mee, Pete Teo, Amelia Chen, Lim Kien Lee
The closing chord of James Lee’s love trilogy is the shortest film in the series at seventy minutes, and because it focuses on no fewer than three couples, it is immediately the least boring. In the same apartment furnished with the same furniture, the viewer is given a glimpse into the lives of six people in a short episode of just over twenty minutes. Besides the setting, there are more similarities to be found. None of the couples are married, but they are thinking about it or it may have been mentioned. The contrasts between man and woman are often great – you wonder what they see in each other – there is an extensive tongue kissing session in each piece (with accompanying saliva sounds, something that occurs more often in James Lee’s films), there is often a cigarette and in at least two of the stories one half of the couple is physically ill, for whatever reason (in the first story it remains in the middle). In the second part, for example, the man is struggling with urinary problems, which is a point of discussion (he does not take his medication) and creates a funny climax. Although the two people in the middle story are extremes, it is clear that they love each other very much and at first glance their relationship has the greatest chance of success. To a certain extent this is also the case with the third couple, because the boy is very sweet and caring for his girlfriend, who has problems with her stomach. She refuses to go to the doctor, is too busy, wants to drink coffee, while he indicates that water is better for her, she vomits twice … Maybe she is pregnant, maybe not, it is suggested, because a couple once she seems to be about to tell her boyfriend.
The first part is downright the most annoying to watch. We see a woman hanging apathetically on the couch, her boyfriend comes home and sees at a glance that it is a mess in the house. Without saying a word, he scrubs the kitchen, vacuums the room, and gives his girlfriend a cigarette at her request. After he has made coffee, a reproachful remark comes out of nowhere about a letter she has received, from a man in whom she – she says – sees nothing, but for whom he suspects she has feelings. What follows is an obnoxious cat and mouse game in which he tells her to throw the letter away and she persists in refusing, claiming that she does not like the sender of the letter. Such a discussion in which two characters keep repeating their point of view may well be from real life, but just not fascinating to watch. Funny is the way she always sits on the other couch after a kiss, far away from her boyfriend, and then he sits down with her again to just pick up where they left off. Funny, but vague.
So James Lee is doing well in construction by starting with the least interesting segment. What his intention is with the film, however, is not clear. It would be interesting to show different aspects of relationships in the same environment, or even relationships at different stages, but in ‘Waiting for Love’ all three couples seem to come to the same conclusion: marriage is not (yet) for them . Whether they will stay together – just like in real life – is also not certain. “Waiting for Love” is yet another showcase for Lee’s oeuvre, his static camerawork and the fact that he delivers the sparse dialogues to the audience in a few minutes will not appeal to everyone. Yet this last part is the most accessible of the three films in the trilogy. So James Lee for beginners.