End of Love @ Image + Nation

You could not accuse Hong Kong born/Toronto educated director Simon Chung of shying away from disturbing scenes or sex in his films. The close ups of a mother after she has jumped off a rooftop, needles in the arms of addicts and a forced sex scene are there for all to see. If you are into the steamy stuff, there are enough sex scenes in "End of Love" to satisfy most people. The criticism I have about the film is not Chung's courage, but rather his focus. At times it seemed as if he was trying to jam in as many obstacles as possible into what essentially was a love story.

Ming (Lee Chi-kin) finds out that love is a many complicated thing. Especially when you add homosexuality, drugs and suicide into it. He meets Yan (Alex Young), an older more conservative man, at the clothing store he works at. The trying on and fitting of pants leads to an immediate romantic interlude.

After Ming's mother catches he and Yan having sex she tells him to leave and not come back. As he is fleeing from his apartment building and running after Yan his mother, distraught, throws herself off the building. Ming now has no one.

Ming finds someone to live with. He lives with Cyrus, a drug using sometimes male prostitute. Needing some money and not being disgusted by the idea of sex for cash, Ming begins to take on the occasional client as well. Soon enough, prostitution becomes his means of supporting himself. Of course, using drugs like ecstasy and ketamin seem to come with the territory.

Yan comes back into Ming's life and they embark on a relationship. Needless to say, Ming does not tell Yan that he is working as a prostitute. When Yan finally finds out about the drug use (after Ming is hospitalized) and prostitution (courtesy of Cyrus) he is against Ming's lifestyle. Ming will not change and decides to break up with Yan. Crushed, Yan calls the police and Ming and others are arrested during one of the drug-fuelled parties.

As punishment for his drug-related arrest Ming is sent to a Christian rehab camp. There he meets Keung (Guthrie Yip), a heterosexual male who becomes Ming's mentor. The two men become close during their time in camp together. When he is finally released Ming lives with Keung and his girlfriend.

In the outside world, life is not smooth for Ming. Ming is harbouring romantic feelings for Keung, is having to fight off the romantic advances of Keung's girlfriend, Jackie (Joman Chiang), starts partying and taking drugs again, and has to deal with his ex Yan, who is not over him.

Thankfully this is not one of those typical films where the lead character's problems are due to his sexual orientation. It does not fall into that trap that many other films have. Ming's problems are emotional and his inability to trust.

Director Chung also does judge his characters no matter their behaviour. He concentrates on showing an uncensored view of one man's life. As a result, there are no real heroes or villains in this picture as everyone falls into the grey category. Chung also does not shy away from showing the darker side of a gay life. It is not all pink boas and fun for Ming.

What did begin to wear on me about the film was that it seemed like Simon Chung was trying to force too many issues into one film. Prostitution, a gay man having feelings for a straight man, drug abuse, suicide, and a parent not being able to handle the news that their child is gay. The story is predictable, but that wasn't its biggest fault. The lack of focus was. It all became too much after a while.

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