Student Hins (Adonis He) is in a relationship with his classmate Joy (Fiona Wang) but he starts to question his sexuality when he is introduced to Professor Ming (Jackie Chow), who teaches philosophy. As Hins becomes more interested in his Professor, it drives a wedge between him and Joy but he struggles to fight his need to explore. Professor Ming introduces Hins to a world he’s never known before and his decisions start to affect those around him as he pushes the boundaries of his sexuality.
Utopians in the latest movie from writer/director Scud and it’s both bold and visually appealing. Scud doesn’t hold back when it comes to depicting the journey of Hins so if lots of nudity isn’t for you, we suggest you don’t bother with this film. Utopians opens with Hins having an incredibly erotic dream with a religious undertone that is sure to stir up plenty of controversy. The main theme of the film is really to explore what sexuality is and try to separate it from the labels that are so often used in modern society.
Scud does a really great job of fleshing out his characters, particularly Hins. Over the course of the film Hins opens himself up to new experiences under the guidance of Professor Ming. He is drawn to the polyamorous lifestyle his teacher leads even though his Catholic girlfriend is horrified by what her boyfriend is doing. Professor Ming is presented as refreshingly uncomplicated, given the life the character leads. He is consistently unapologetic for the way he lives his life and Jackie Chow plays him with a real sense of freedom.
Not everything in Utopians works. Scud is a very visual director but sometimes there is so much going on and it’s unclear what is real and what is fantasy. This can confuse the overall narrative and you may spend some time trying to figure out what’s actually going on. Another moment that is likely to be divisive is a masturbation scene where Hins pleasures himself to climax while the camera lingers on him. It’s sure to bring up the age old question about the line between sex in films and pornography and it’s not a moment I felt added much, if anything, to the overall film.
One thing you can’t accuse Utopians of being is dull. It’s bursting with ideas and it challenges your preconceptions about a lot of subjects. Whilst it may sometimes try too hard to do too much, Utopians has lots to say and it’s a very bold film. The final moments will likely surprise you and throughout the film things happen that you just don’t expect. It keeps you on your toes and it’s an intelligent watch even if it may be an acquired taste.
Cast: Adonis He, Fiona Wang, Jackie Chow, Moe Chin Director: Scud Writer: Scud Certificate: Unrated Duration: 94 mins Released By: Breaking Glass Pictures Release Date: 2nd May 2017