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Commissioned by Runaway Films
Hong Kong, 2008
-Love in a Nutshell
Love is a virus. It incubates silently. It strikes suddenly. It blinds your immunity. It spreads by way of intimate contacts. Its favorite breeding ground – small, crowded, claustrophobic spaces such as an office.
Pearl, a marketing executive in her twenties, finds herself being drawn closer and closer to Tom, her married-with-kid boss. She has been working for him for quite some time. Their five-member team works in a compact, crowded office where they spend 8 to 10 hours every day, 5 to 6 days a week. Most days, Pearl bums a ride home after work in Tom’s car, along with Karl, a middle-aged nuisance; John, a serious-looking nerd; and Jewel, a self-serving flirt. Tom, always a good boss, is as kind and tolerant as he could manage. But what lies beneath Tom’s gentle façade no one knows for sure.
“Is this love?” Pearl ponders. If so, is the feeling mutual? How and when did a normal working relationship gradually evolve into something romantic? What should she do now? The anxiety is becoming unbearable.
The bubble bursts abruptly as Tom, who has come to realize that they are going down the wrong path, asks Pearl to interview for another job. The deeply wounded Pearl retaliates by insisting that Tom sack her. So that is how it ends, a showdown.
Told in eight scenes retrospectively, the film examines the mysterious blossoming and dying of an elusive affair. The saddest thing about this is: it is such a commonplace happening. In the tiny universe known as office, two powerful forces are at play – politics and romance.
World Premiered at the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival as part of Official Selection Competition, Claustrophobia is the directorial debut of Hong Kong’s best woman screenwriter Ivy Ho, who wrote the award winning screenplays for Comrades, Almost a Love Story and July Rhapsody.