Road Rash Reviews

The Lyricist Wannabe Cinema Review****-

Cert 12A | 110 mins | 2024

4 star amusing and informative coming-of-age story.

The Lyricist Wannabe is a 2024 Hong Kong teen comedy written and directed by Norris Wong (My Prince Edward) which draws inspiration from her own life. It offers a fascinating insight in the world of Cantopop and it’s creation.

It is presented here in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles and is showing in selected UK cinemas from 15th March 2024, courtesy of Trinity CineAsia.

“Mandarin, Korean and English lyrics aren’t concerned with tones, but Cantonese lyrics can sound funny when the tone is just a little off-melody?”

Law Wing Sze (Chung Suet Ying – Time, The Sparring Partner) is a young girl, still living with her father (Eric Kot – Bodyshop, Tracey) and mother (Luna ShawTime Still Turns the Pages) and attending high school. She fancies herself a lyricist and aspires to make it her lifelong career. This puts her in constant conflict with her brother (Ernest Poon), who also likes to write lyrics.

At school, she rewrites Cantonese lyrics for popular songs, but just can’t ever seem to get a break. She is given an opportunity to perform at the school Happy Teachers Day performance but gets cancelled last minute. To help with her writing, she enrolls in the Lyricist 101 Vocational Training Scheme, run by Wing Lo (Chu Pak Hong – Fly Me to the Moon, In Broad Daylight), whose first lesson is that you can’t make a living from writing lyrics.

She goes to record companies looking for work and tries multiple jobs and even lands new songs to write, for record director Chris Lee (Tony Wu tsz Tung)  and former school friend turned singer Mak (Anson Chan – Rob n Roll), but following years of setbacks, will her perseverance ever pay off?

“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. No-one makes a living as a lyricist. Heh heh… do you still want to go pro?”

The Lyricist Wannabe is a very entertaining film and also educational. If you are interested in music and it’s composition then this will suit you down to the ground. It is a fascinating look into Cantopop, a genre with which I was entirely unfamiliar prior to watching the film. It features lyrics from star Chung Suet Ying, who is herself a real-life Cantopop lyricist.

The approach to writing is so different to Western songs and it’s all explained really clearly, but in an extremely humorous way. The adding in of little cartoon sequences is really cute and goes brilliantly with the music. There is plenty of comedy, as well as a darker side, when we see Law thwarted at every turn and wonder if you should always pursue your dreams regardless, or take the hint and move on.

All in all this is a great watch and if you are a music lover, you will enjoy this deep dive into the world of Cantopop.

“Why are sky beaches…sky garden built wherever? If we see the sea together…Don’t want to see elephants…rock…and timber.”

The Lyricist Wannabe is showing in selected UK Cinemas from 15th March 2024. Book your tickets here.

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DirectorNorris Wong Yee Lam
GenreComedy, drama, music
StarringChung Suet-Ying, Eric Kot, Ermest Poon, ANSONBEAN, Chu Pak Hong