Streaming on Prime Video from writer/director Lulu Wang based on the novel The Expatriates BY Janice Y.K. Lee comes the connected story of people who are trying to understand their lives as EXPATS.
Hong Kong is in an uproar in 2014 and in the midst of it is Margaret Woo (Nicole Kidman), husband Clarke (Brian Tee), children Philip (Bodhi del Rosario), Daisy (Tiana Gowen) and little Gus (Connor James) are living their best life. Helping with the children is Essie (Ruby Ruiz) who the Woo clan feels is part of their family.
On another floor is Hilary Starr (Sarayu Blue) and husband David (Jack Huston) who are trying to decide whether they want family. Dealing with fertility problems, it seems that perhaps it is more than that as a potential answer enters their lives through the twisted hand of fate. Also in the Starr household is housekeeper Puri (Amelyn Pardenilla) who knows more about what happens in their home than they do.
College graduate Mercy (Ji-young Yoo) is living in Hong Kong trying to find her place in the world. Working jobs as a catering server, she feels as if her life has been preordained to be a disaster because of a book she found as a child. Weaving her way through the streets of Hong Kong she tries to make the right choices but gets caught up in her own way.
Each woman discovers that happiness can be stripped away in a matter of a few text messages as their worlds come into question. The questions that arise from tragedy are what is right, what is wrong and what is fair are all in their own hands as they being to understand themselves and one another.
Kidman as Margaret is a woman who has accepted her life following husband Clarke through his career. Taking care of the household and children have become her life, but when tragedy strikes, Margaret becomes obsessive with everyone around not knowing how to handle it. Kidman character becomes unhinged that her life has been thrown in a direction she isn’t prepared for. Tee as husband Clarke is the calming influence, his character is that of a man who loves his life, family and pretty much has a ‘water off a duck’s back’ to difficulties. Again, here is a character that now has to come face to face with a difficulty that is unimaginable. I enjoyed Tee’s performance as Clarke becomes truly raw and it hits hard.
Blue as Hilary is a force to be reckoned with and don’t plan on trying to get a word in edgewise when her mouth starts motoring. It is her Indian heritage that has steeped her into playing many faces in order to maintain a look of calm and togetherness. Even when forgiving someone, she hides her emotions with talks. Huston as David is one of the people who is caught up in the web of Hilary’s inability to control her talking when things become difficult. Not knowing what is place is in their marriage takes him on reckless path. Huston gives his character a mixture of that recklessness and unreliability to his marriage.
Yoo as Mercy is a young woman emotionally lost in a very large city. Working hard just to pay the rent, Yoo’s character believes something she was told as a young girl. It is so engrained into her psyche that she allows it to be the reason for bad choices. Yoo’s portrayal of Mercy is that of a young woman who will come to terms with life, and those who have been affected by a moment that can not be taken back.
Pardenilla and Ruiz are the two women employed by the families to help with their households and children but they are still in the middle of everything that goes on. There is this invisible wall between their lives to the point where they even speak so openly that when Essie and Puri are with their friends who also work in households, it doesn’t take long for rumors to become confirmed fact. Essie loves the Woo family and Puri sees the possibility of success away from housework.
Other cast include Poon Pak Shing as Sam, Bonde Sham as Charly, Flora Chan as Olivia Chu, Blessing Mokgohloa as Pastor Alan Mambo, Sudha Bhuchar as Brinder, Jennifer Beveridge as Tilda, Lesley Chiang as Philena Song, Gabrielle Chan as Jing Woo, Elizabeth Ng as Shellac, Steven Chan as Detective Chang, Edmund Ng as Andrew, Rasha Goel as Geeta,
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EXPATS is a look at these women and how one moment changes so much. The lives they are each living seemed far removed from one another yet one deep hurt reaches further than their lives. It turns the lives of everyone they come into contact with and all that glitters is not gold. Like the rest of us, they lose their way, realize what they’ve given up for their own dreams and, in some cases, do not know how to walk away.
The men, Clarke and David are a bit of second players in this large cast of women. That being said, their moments on screen are filled with emotions they aren’t “supposed” to feel being men. Tee and Huston are surrounded by what is expected of them rather than being able to speak their truths.
EXPATS brings the story of these characters in six episodes with the first two already aired on Prime. Each episode will be brought weekly until its final conclusion. This is a stunning piece of storytelling from start to finish.
In the end – we are what we survive!