Diva ★★★½

Heiward Mak's third film as director, an exposé of the dark side of music superstardom starring real-life music superstar Joey Yung. Unlike her other features, the film is straightforward in its chronology, aside from a 10 minute prologue that jumps around a bit in time. The plot centers on two women, one an established star (Yung) the other just starting out (Meg Lam), and the machinations of their ruthless manager, played by Chapman To with a delightfully matter-of-fact amorality. Like all of her other features, Mak shows an eye for glossy colors and striking compositions. Maybe it's a reflection of the highly artificial milieu, but there's an emptiness to her style here, it's missing the warmth and humanity of Ex or Uncertain Relationships Society. The performances are good, down to small supporting roles for Kara Hui (!) as the owner of a bar where Lam sings and director Clement Cheng (Gallants) as a skeevy music producer. The stories of the two singers aren't all that interesting (they both essentially boil down to: "Can a woman be a star and still find a man to love?" Blergh.), and the songs are pretty terrible. I like to think that there are depths to the lyrics of Chinese pop music that are impossible to translate into English, but sometimes I wonder if it really is just deliriously corny nonsense.

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