REVIEW: I’m Livin’ It lays bare the problems of poverty and inequality

·3-min read
Aaron Kwok in I'm Livin' It. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Aaron Kwok in I'm Livin' It. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

By Lim Yian Lu

Length: 114 minutes
Director: Wong Hing Fan
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Miriam Yeung, Alex Man, Cheung Tat-ming, Nina Paw, Cya Liu, Zeno Koo, Kathy Wu, Gaga Wong

3 out of 5 stars

Nominated for the Best Film in the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards, I’m Livin’ It is a drama which showcases some of society’s tricky issues specifically related to the poor. Aaron Kwok stars as Bowen, who was a successful finance guru but now spends his nights in a 24-hour fast food joint.

His story intertwines with other fellow “roommates”, each with their own set of troubles and worries: a youngster (Zeno Koo) who ran away from home; a mother (Cya Liu) with a young daughter (Gaga Wong) who had to scrimp and save to repay her mother-in-law’s debts; a waiting-to-be-famous singer (Miriam Yeung) in a sunset company; an old man (Alex Man) who would rather stay outside than to go home; and a talkative homeless man (Cheung Tat-ming) who has a talent for drawing.

Like a big brother, Bowen takes care of these “roommates” and helps them get through life. Through guiding the youngster, a relatively newbie in living outside of the comforts of a home, Bowen reveals his little tricks for survival, including spending the night at the 24-hour fast food joint instead of a rat-infested underground tunnel, getting free food from food banks and charities, and recovering “garbage” to sell. Bowen also helps them find a job (sometimes jobs), so they can continue living.

Miriam Yeung and Aaron Kwok in I'm Livin' It. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)
Miriam Yeung and Aaron Kwok in I'm Livin' It. (Photo: Golden Village Pictures)

Playing on the slogan of that mega fast food chain, I’m Livin’ It has nothing lovely to tell but sad facts of what poverty looks like in a cosmopolitan city. It is not a motivational story and there is always an air of gloominess. Life is a lot more unfair when you do not have wealth and status. Bowen knows this very well, but in order to survive, he just has to grit his teeth and bear with whatever insults people throw at him, and regardless of how difficult and tiring his job(s) can get.

Despite the melancholic setting, one scene was particularly heart-warming and may even bring happy tears to your eyes. It was when Bowen was faced with a difficult situation and the “roommates” all came forth to help with whatever they could. It is truly “kindness begets kindness” and shows that there is still a ray of hope and warmth in this cold-blooded world.

The story can be slow-flowing with no epic highs or lows like most dramas are. But it has a star-studded cast which features Aaron Kwok (nominated as the Best Actor in the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in this movie), actress and singer Miriam Yeung (awarded Best Actress in the 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance in Love In The Buff), veteran actor Alex Man (nominated as the Best Supporting Actor in the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in this movie), comedian Cheung Tat-ming (nominated as the Best Supporting Actor in the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in this movie), and Chinese actress Cya Liu (nominated as the Best Supporting Actress in the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance in this movie).

I’m Livin’ It will make you ponder about the severity of the social issues presented in the movie, and how these issues of being trapped in a vicious poverty cycle have been lingering around and awaiting solutions. At the very least, you can count your blessings that you have a roof over your head, and need not worry about your next meal!

Release date: 17 September 2020 (Singapore)