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We Are Family

Opening Date
28 Mar 2024
103 mins
Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitles
Comedy, Drama
Benny Lau
Eric Tsang, Carlos Chan Catherine Chau, Kelly Tien
“Rent-a-Family” specialises in offering family and friends for rent. The company consists of Carlos, the founder; Catherine, the drama coach; and Chi Kwong, the passionate small-time actor. Carlos and Catherine disapprove of Chi Kwong’s overwhelming care for their clients but they begin to rethink the meaning of “Rent-a-Family” when they see the results of Chi Kwong’s kindness…

By InCinemas  26 Mar 2024
A meta-comedy with a gamut of emotions.
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We Are Family (出租家人) is directed by Benny Lau and was first released at the New York Asian Film Festival on 16 July 2022. Eric Tsang as both producer and lead actor, along with an inspiring cast of Carlos Chan, Cahterine Chau and Kelly Niu, effectively runs the audience through a gamut of emotions in this meta-comedy.
The story transplants the popular Japanese phenomenon of rental family services into a Hongkong setting, and is focused on “WeFamily” which is a company which specialises in offering family and friends for rent. The company is run by Carlos (Chan) and Catherine (Chau) who hire themselves and others as make-believe relatives.  
The film begins where we meet Chi Kwong (Tsang), a bumbling but warm-hearted, aging actor wannabe who bums around as an extra on a film set. In his overzealous attempts to portray the role of a perfect grandfather and his refusal to keep to the given script, Chi Kwong was fired from his job as an extra. However, his enthusiasm attracts the attention of Carlos, the boss of WeFamily.  
Alongside Chi Kwong’s recruitment into WeFamily, we are introduced to Catherine, an aspiring actress and single mother who takes on gigs as a wife to many lonely male clients in order to support her daughter, Chi Ching, who also participates in some gigs. Chi Kwong’s first assignment as the “father” figure to assist a young woman to overcome her fear in driving inevitably develops into a hilarious stunt-filled car chase.  
Chi Kwong’s landlady Wei Fong who lives upstairs from him, visits WeFamily to find a substitute husband cum dance partner, but gets roped into the company, when a young woman named Karen seeks a plausible fake family for her upcoming nuptials. Karen realises that Chi Kwong and Wei Fong are the perfect fit as her parents. Soon every member of WeFamily gets involved to create the family which Karen desires to impress and secure the approval of her prospective in-laws.  
At this juncture when everyone is happily preparing for Karen’s wedding, the film changes track from lively humour to an atmosphere of nostalgia, regret and sadness with the reveal of the tragic personal stories of each employee of WeFamily. We soon come to understand and appreciate the multifaceted view of complex family units, and the lies which family members sometimes are obligated to tell or live to meet external expectations and bring happiness to others or themselves. The film manages to showcase this impressive array of scenarios without being boring, confusing or overplaying of emotions. It skilfully weaves together different genres and inject plot twists to surprise the audience.  
Will Chi Kwong’s honest overwhelming care for their clients ruin the business or will Carlos and Catherine examine their values and rethink the meaning of Rent-a-Family when they see the results of Chi Kwong`s kindness. Can Chi Kwong find his own path to happiness? Will Karen ignore her growing guilt and continue to live the lie of a perfect family. Well, take the enjoyable ride and find out for yourself!
I must confess that I thoroughly enjoy watching We Are Family as it is a refreshing andf unny take on dysfunctional family dynamics bust still remaining warm-hearted, touching and deeply honest. Let’s be honest, we are guilty of wishing for the perfect family, friends and loved ones, perhaps to combat disappointment, loneliness, face saving, expectations or abandonment. In Japan, service providers which allow people to rent a family or girlfriend have existed since early 1990s and in South Korea, you can “rent an oppa”, which is popular with single career women in their 30s and 40s who need a companion for work functions, holidays and social gatherings. Even in the local context, people can rent a boyfriend or girlfriend for festive gatherings in Singapore to avoid awkward questions regarding their love lives from nosy relatives.
If this movie is any indication, I can’t wait to catch another movie from the dynamic duo of Benny Lau and Eric Tsang to bring me on a roller coaster ride of laughter and tears.
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