Tomorrow Is Another Day (Hong Kong, 2017) [Reel Asian 2018]

Written and directed by Tai-lee Chan, Tomorrow Is Another Day tells the story of Wong Kam Fa (Theresa Mo) and Wong Yuen Shan (Ray Lui), a married couple in their forties who have spent the last twenty years raising Kwong (Man-Lung Ling), their only son who is autistic. Shan has been having an affair and Fa knows, but she keeps quiet for the sake of her family until one day the mistress Daisy (Bonnie Xian) shows up at the family’s apartment while Fa is out shopping. With their marriage already falling apart, Shan leaves and moves in with Daisy, leaving Fa to take care of Kwong by herself.

Prior to the implosion of the marriage, we see a hint of the physical toll raising Kwong has had on the couple. Shan is covered in scratches and scars and in one serious episode we see Shan and Fa having to physically restrain Kwong so he doesn’t hurt himself or his parents. After Daisy’s unexpected appearance at the apartment we see the real psychological toll that an autistic child has had on the Wongs, and it isn’t pretty. While Shan leaves to live with his girlfriend, Fa struggles. At first, she is almost catatonic, consumed with the end of her marriage and her husband’s blatant infidelity. She eventually becomes obsessed with Daisy, dreaming up a scheme to murder the younger woman.

What is most impressive about Tomorrow Is Another Day is the way Fa’s character evolves. In the immediate aftermath of the end of her marriage, she is in shock, almost unable to function on a basic level; she is so completely consumed with loss and despair. Fa is embraced by her friends, who include her and Kwong in knitting circles and karaoke, and are there for her to talk, especially Mrs. Keung (On-On Yu) and Mrs. Lee (Elvina Kong). Fa eventually finds herself a part-time job selling ice cream that allows her to take Kwong with her. Fa goes from being a fairly solitary woman dealing with her own struggles to a woman who is resilient and able to break out of her shell, if not fully, at least enough to help her cope with the hand life has dealt her.

While Daisy is not a fully realized character (she is quite the stereotypical evil homewrecker), Chan has done an incredible job with the other characters in this film. Fa, Shan, and Kwong are all fully realized and just as flawed as real-life people. I especially liked Mrs. Keung’s attitude on life. Her husband died but she tries to stay positive. And she delivers that same sentiment to Fa – stay positive and move on.

Tomorrow Is Another Day is thoroughly heartbreaking. Both Shan and Fa are completely relatable characters. You cannot help but feel sympathy for them both, even understanding why Shan is having an affair. This is Chan’s directorial debut but he has done a fantastic job of creating thoroughly relatable characters, his only real misstep being Daisy. Chan has previously served as screenwriter for the Ip Man series (2008/2010/2015/2018) and seems to have a great career ahead of him. While undoubtedly sad, Tomorrow Is Another Day is an uplifting film which is not only full of strong female characters but also brings awareness to autism.

Tomorrow Is Another Day is showing on November 9 at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.