Posted 20 hours ago

Lockdown Lovers

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The episodic cut of the low budget movie that I wrote (Lockdown Lovers) is now TX-ing in weekly webisodes on Lilydale Films' Flunk Channel on YouTube. Lockdown Lovers is a story set across two continents, six humans and a pangolin, the mammal reportedly at the root of the virus.

As I started his book, I found it both eerie and surreal to read about these events that we now know all too well. I had to chuckle when I came across this part because thirty years ago I, too, spent my lunch hours in the same spot, pouring through back issues of the Far Eastern Economic Review to see if Jiang Qing and Pol Pot were still alive. Fast-forward six months and the couple decided to move in with Erica’s parents for the winter lockdown.One of O’Sullivan’s three narrators is John, who is an Irish professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. We also get regular updates and reflections on the time of lockdown from Phoebe Ho, Kwok-ying and a pangolin. Even as O’Sullivan’s characters lament a lost Hong Kong, he reminds us “how individual one’s view of the future is” and that “we don’t all view it in a single, collective way”. If I was just having a really bad day and needed to have a massive cry or something, It’s the sort of thing that I only want to do in my own space.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The love story, while passionate, is fleeting and altogether less meaningful than some of the friendships in the novel. Books like Ying Ma’s Severance and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 also provided a counterintuitive calming effect.Years from now, perhaps someone will study the psychology of living through a pandemic and the various coping mechanisms we turn to. It is this tension between becoming “faceless” ( dismembered) and seen ( re-membered) that drives the novel. Lilydale Films, the Australian production company behind hit teen online series Flunk, has released its latest feature Lockdown Lovers. Considering the tiny apartments packed with bunk beds in densely packed neighbourhoods, what kind of mobility was there before the pandemic?

At the same time, John knows he should stay back with Sue and Sam, yet still goes ahead with his trip to Ireland. In Part II, John, Phoebe and Kwok-ying have all had to go into quarantine as they have picked up the virus. O’Sullivan penetrates deep, lending an emotional and socio-historical richness to his characters that elevates the story from a character drama to a uniquely moving social critique. This is a party selection for the more discerning nutter, featuring huge drums, stomping bass, catchy riffs and a fair measure of barefaced cheek. I think it takes a year or two, and in lockdown you don’t really know that person in multiple contexts: what they’re like their friends; when they are working in the office; when they are being sociable.While the facemasks make people “indistinguishable”, O’Sullivan’s characters remain intensely unique, enduring their own manifestation of vulnerability and loneliness. In the novel, present-day John remembers spending time in the United College Library Archives at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, looking through Hennessy’s letters from Hong Kong. No teddybears or hearts, just wax and a few other parts: Sandalwood smells really good, Rose for our favourite hoes and Oud to set the mood.

All of the candles are amazing and I don’t find them overly flowery beautiful subtle scents - good for the soul! Written by Brit Danny Spring ( Hunter Street, World’s End) and directed by Ric Forster ( Flunk, Neighbours), the two-hour film was shot in-studio and on location in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Phoebe is a twenty-something Hong Kong activist and recently elected local councilor, Kwok-ying is a government health official, and the pangolin is one of the mammals reported as being at the root of the virus.

Will these two strangers drive each other crazy during lockdown, or find themselves falling in love? Kwok-ying tells us early on that lockdown life has become about “dealing with the dead, not the living”, but O’Sullivan proves the opposite. Other symbols of the city, like the bolo baos they queue for, promise momentary escape; as Kwok-ying “inhales deeply […] the sweet-tangy smell of burnt pineapple sugar and freshly-baked bread”, we hear that, “something in this is not about disease”.

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