Warning: Trailer contains nudity
Voyage is Hong Kong director Scud’s fifth film. Audacity would be a good one-word summary of Scud’s output to date, and those who have appreciated that about his films will not be disappointed. Like his previous films, Voyage has plenty of obscure and sometimes idiosyncratic symbolism and allusions, abundant full nudity, saturated colors, explanatory texts, and a very negative story about love. Scud is not a director for the modest. The film is a series of shorts on the themes death, depression and and the afterlife, framed as stories being written by a psychiatrist (Ryo van Kooten) as he travels on his yacht with the intention of determining whether or not to take his own life.
The movie tells eight or nine and one-half stories, depending on the count, of people whose lives have been cut short in some way. Usually their lives end by their own hands, but sometimes accidents happen. In most cases there is an explanation of a cultural belief about the afterlife and often a spiritual manifestation of deceased is shown after death. The question is whether or not a belief in the afterlife makes a depressing life worth living. Watching the movie is an unrelentingly bleak experience to say the least, but then Scud has never been known to back away from death in his previous films. The idea that love and depression are related (in this film they are equated) and that love solves exactly nothing in life is a conclusion he’s led us to before. Scud often punches at our notion of love and romance. The problem with this outlook is that Scud is putting his thumb on the scales in these tales. If he is actually trying to determine whether our personal tales can end any other way besides depression, perhaps he should take on a different set of tales – ones where people don’t suddenly end their lives prematurely. Yes, we all die, but that doesn’t mean everyone is better off not living.
This is the first film Scud has shot entirely in English. Unfortunately, very few of the actors involved appear to be capable of more than reciting lines in a language they do not speak. Scud has always been a globalist in his approach to film-making, but in this case, I think the attempt falls short. The audience for these films is probably more literate than Scud gives them credit for, which is why the explanatory texts in his films feel a bit condescending. That audience can actually read subtitles and figure out what is going on on its own.It probably would have been better to let Leni Speidel and Haze Leung discussed things in their native languages, especially when speaking with their fellow countrymen.
I viewed the Hong Kong verison of this film