First Night Nerves
(Ba ge nuren yi tai xi)
Sammi Cheng, Gigi Leung, Bai Baihe,
Festival favorite Stanley Kwan is one of cinema’s great directors of women, and his deliriously entertaining new film offers an almost entirely female cast. When transgender playwright An hires two feuding actresses to star in her latest work, she has little idea of the battles for center stage that will ensue. Starring Cantopop queen Sammi Cheng as Xiuling and Gigi Leung as the younger and hipper Yuwen, First Night Nerves flips effortlessly between play rehearsals and the behind-the-curtain heartbreaks and secret affairs of the squabbling stars, offering glorious melodrama throughout.
“Audiences looking for the next Crazy Rich Asians might take some delight in Stanley Kwan’s diva-licious First Night Nerves, a Feud-like behind-the-scenes rivalry which forces [onto] center stage all the drama between high-maintenance Hong Kong actresses. . . . One of Hong Kong’s only openly gay directors, Kwan has crafted a movie that’s nearly Almodóvarian in the appreciation and respect it showers upon ladies of all classes—not just the city’s Ferrari-driving super-elite, but also the loyal assistants who cook [for] and console our dueling stars.”—Peter Debruge, Variety