“Bends,” Flora Lau’s restrained debut feature, seesaws between the painful limbos of an upper-class Hong Kong housewife and her driver, who lives on the mainland. Shot in sleek tones by Christopher Doyle, the film melds class-conscious melodrama with malleable mood piece, but keeps threatening to fade from understatement into stasis.
If this debut feature by Flora Lau feels decidedly more polished and assured than most debut features, that's due in large part to both Carina Lau bringing the movie-star goods and ever-dependable DP extraordinaire Christopher Doyle following each eye-popping composition with another more gorgeous. It's a one-two punch that would no doubt leave other neophyte filmmakers feeling more than a little jealous.
Carina Lau's restrained acting conveys beautifully Anna's inner torment and growing conscience of the hollowness of her life, with a constant elegance that the film eventually transforms into a possible moral quality. She is a perfect match to the "low key" choices of the director, since the film manages to convey its critical comment without ever giving in to melodramatic twists nor demonstrative developments.