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CLAUSTROPHOBIA

Hong Kong / China, 2008 (MIFF 2009, Neighborhood Watch)

Love is a virus. It incubates silently. It strikes suddenly. It blinds your immunity. It spreads by way of intimate contacts. Its favorite breeding ground - small, crowded, claustrophobic spaces. Take offices, for example...

Pearl, a marketing executive in her twenties, finds herself being drawn closer and closer to Tom, her married-with-kid boss. She has been working for him for quite some time. Their five-member team works in a compact, crowded office where they spend 8 to 10 hours every day, 5 to 6 days a week. Most days, Pearl bums a ride home after work in Tom's car, along with Karl, a middle-aged nuisance; John, a serious-looking nerd; and Jewel, a self-serving flirt. Tom, always a good boss, is as kind and tolerant as he could manage. But what lies beneath Tom's gentle façade no one knows for sure.

β€œIs this love?” Pearl ponders. If so, is the feeling mutual? How and when did a normal working relationship gradually evolve into something romantic? What should she do now? The anxiety is becoming unbearable.

The bubble bursts abruptly as Tom, who has come to realise that they are going down the wrong path, asks Pearl to interview for another job. The deeply wounded Pearl retaliates by insisting that Tom sack her. So that is how it ends, a showdown.

Told in eight scenes retrospectively, the film examines the mysterious blossoming and dying of an elusive affair. The saddest thing about this is: it is such a commonplace happening. In the tiny universe known as office, two powerful forces are at play - politics and romance.

D Ivy Ho P Cary Cheng, William Kong, Chung Man Yee L Cantonese with English subtitles WS Edko Films TD 35 mm/2008

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