Secret Sharer Movie Review
This adaptation of Joseph Conrad's 1909 short story ambitiously twists the premise to add a bit of sexual tension, although the plot can't quite sustain itself right to the end. Despite some vivid characters, sensual filmmaking and an intriguingly atmospheric tone, the film falls apart due to some badly under-developed story elements. This means that the final act lacks the punch it needs to hold an audience's interest.
The central character is an adventurous young Pole named Konrad (British actor Jack Laskey), who has just been given his first job as a ship's captain. But the crew of the cargo ship are suspicious of his motives as he sets a course from the Gulf of Thailand to Shanghai. In an act of rebellion, they all head to shore one day to buy supplies, leaving him alone on the creaking vessel. That night he fishes a naked woman named Li (Zhu Zhu) from the sea, hiding her in his cabin when the crew returns. Then her husband (Leon Dai) turns up, claiming that she's wanted for murder. So as Konrad struggles to keep Li hidden, he also tries to win over the loyalty of his crew. But they're sure he's following corporate orders to scuttle the ship at sea.
The web of suspicion in the first half keeps the whole movie afloat, as Konrad and the crew circle around each other wondering how they will create a working relationship. These scenes are sharply well-played by the boyish Laskey as a young man who left home in search of adventure but ran straight up against the darker realities of the world. It's great fun to watch him negotiate some sort of peace with the bristly, eccentric crew, which includes a hotheaded natural leader (Bao Yin Ni Mu Hu) and a drunk (Hsia Ching-ting) who's more important than he looks.
So it's frustrating that everything grinds to a halt just as the narrative starts to build. The focus switches from the involving, messy bonding to a series of events that feel somewhat random. Filmmaker Peter Fudakowski never quite generates a spark to make something of the tentative attraction between Konrad and Li, and he also never builds the suspense needed to make the climactic finale thrilling. The film is beautifully shot, with a fine sense of the locations and a realistic feel for life at sea. But Fudakowski should really have kept the focus intimate and personal, navigating a more dramatic path through the perilous waters than this simplistic, undercooked action.
Cast & Crew
Director : Peter Fudakowski
Producer : Peter Fudakowski, Tom Waller
Screenwriter : Peter Fudakowski
Starring : Jack Laskey, Zhu Zhu, Hsia Ching-ting, Bao Yin Ni Mu Hu, Leon Dai, Si Qin Chao Ke Tu, K.M. Lo, Guo Zhongyou