This study of all the odd little characters who visit an inauspicious Midnight Diner from late night to late night is a reserved drama with an appetite for the profound.
Based on the comic from Yaro Abe, it follows a man in his 50s who runs the little spot in Shanghai. He works through the night while others are rushing home, providing comfort food and an ear to bend during tough times.
Director and star Tony Ka Fai Leung makes a moving, resonant picture without bombastic sequences or huge flair. The art and magic is actually in the subtleties here.
As Uncle, Leung is affecting and a solemn guard for everyone in the film. It’s a unique, understated performance that underscores the film perfectly.
It’s a philosophical endeavour that will truly make you think, and Leung’s character helps those in his haunt without ever really saying too much at all.
Tony Yo-ning Yang, Tao Liu, Elaine Jin, and Kim Scar are all wonderful in supporting roles, and the film’s strength is down to impeccable casting.
However, if I had to pick a supporting cast member who really makes this one, it’s Stanley Sui-Fan Fung as Uncle Zhong, who shakes his head consistently at the silly things the younger patrons worry about. He often gives out his own brand of advice.
Despite its deliberately slow – and sometimes off-putting – pacing, it’s a somber and enlightening film, if you like a slow-burn.