In Broad Daylight, with Jennifer Yu, is a sobering but important look at how society cares for the aging and most vulnerable among us.
In Broad Daylight is an extremely distressing yet extremely important film. Directed by Lawrence Kwan Chun Kan (When C Goes With G7), the movie looks at systemic and structural injustice, exploring both the state of care for those most vulnerable in society. But it’s also, at the same time, a scathing look at the realities of modern journalism. The themes of this movie are deeply human and transcend geopolitical boundaries. In Broad Daylight is deeply uncomfortable, but it is because it is so uncomfortable that it is so meaningful. This deeply moving film is a must-watch.
A plain fact of reality now and as we go onwards into the future is that the world is aging, and that we don’t have enough capacity to care for those who need it the most. This is true in the United States and also in Hong Kong, where In Broad Daylight takes place. The Rainbow Bridge Care Home is a fictional home for people with disabilities and the elderly – those most defenseless to abuse. It’s not a true story, but it is a fictionalized and combined version of many such stories that made headlines about the care home system in Hong Kong.
Jennifer Yu (Sisterhood and Far Far Away) portrays Kay, an undercover journalist for A1 News. After a tip from a worker at the care facility, she assumes the identity of the grandchild of a resident named Tung (David Chiang, Dynasty of Blood, Five Shaolin Masters), who lives there. Tung knows that Kay is not his granddaughter and initially protests but is ignored because of his memory challenges.
But Tung and Kay, as well as Kay and the other residents – including Rachel Leung (Somewhere Beyond the Mist and Ciao UFO) as Ling, a developmentally disabled woman at the age of a 6-year-old – form a friendship as time passes. As Kayshe gets deeper into investigating their mistreatment, she unravels sexual abuse by a crooked “warden” (Bowie Lam, known for The Gutter and Bleeding Steel), and shocking physical abuse and indignities by a character reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched (Pui-Yue Bo, known for Somewhere Beyond the Mist and Kung Fu Scholar). In doing so, Kay becomes personally involved with the story. It changes their lives, along with her own.
Unfortunately, the corrupt system that has enabled this to continue remains intact at the end of the film. Although Kay, in particular, undergoes significant character growth, there is no happy ending in In Broad Daylight. Ultimately, the people she came to care about are harmed by her reporting even though it is “right”, and the care home’s exemption is revoked, leaving all the vulnerable residents homeless. There’s a message that the film threads in, too, that the care homes exist not because their residents are totally without allies in the world, but because either their families are overwhelmed, or they themselves have no other option. The ending makes this point particularly well, and that society itself has failed these people.
Initially, Kay’s motives, and those of her bosses, are not altogether altruistic. She’s no longer a rookie and isn’t there because she actually cares about people. There’s a both cynicism and competitiveness in her attitude. And this is where the film’s criticism of the state of modern journalism lies. Kay is a jaded journalist and is partially in it for the scoop, while her larger boss is in it to save the investigative department of the newspaper. But that changes, and Kay becomes invested in the people at the Rainbow Bridge Care Home, and her passion for the shining light on the truth is reignited.
The movie is tense throughout because of the heavy material, but the pacing doesn’t falter, and the cinematography by Meteor Cheung (The Paradise) is quite beautiful. Fittingly, there’s lots of use of sunlight and sky as the story unfolds. In Broad Daylight is a sobering film with strong performances, especially the moments between Kay and Tung. Yu and Chiang bring such emotion to the screen as they play opposite each other. Fung Woo (Police Story) also deserves special note for his heartbreaking performance as Shui, Tung’s one-time roommate. Several scenes are quite disturbing, and while they support the overall narrative goals of the film, they are still uncomfortable to watch.
The movie is worth experiencing and will hit especially hard if you have an older adult or otherwise vulnerable person in your life that you care about. And for English language audiences, because of the subtitles and their speed, it’s even more important to watch closely and not dare peek at a second screen.
In Broad Daylight will be released in UK cinemas from 19 January 2024. In the US and Canada, the film had a limited theatrical release in December.