TIFF ’23: Expats

Confidently directed by Lulu Wang, her follow-up to The Farewell received much critical acclaim out of Sundance and finally should establish her as “going Hollywood”.

Expats is a six-part miniseries based on the book Expatriates by Janine K Lee. TIFF invited Lulu to share what was the penultimate episode of the series called Central. These episodes focus more on the maids of the rich Expats, played by Nicole Kidman and Sarayu Blue, whose husbands and families cause ruptures in their already chaotic lives in Hong Kong. Set during the 2014 Umbrella Protests, Central also follows the families that are stranded in their homes by an oncoming typhoon, bringing some of their underlying tension to the surface. These family issues are already witnessed by their Filipina housekeepers who try to circumnavigate their own lives and help their own families, even as they become even more attached to the ones they work for.

Expats is a very well-written and directed TV show. The medium of television works very well for Wang as she is strong at writing interesting dialogue that still highlights the both dramatic and comedic tones that can come from serious conversations with family. She understands the relationships between characters well and always frames them with care and respect. Even as these characters make horrific mistakes, she knows how much they care for each other and sees the quirks and actions that make each of them unique. In doing so, that makes for some interesting television that tells us all about these characters even in a 90-minute episode in a series that nears its end.

Expats is currently playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.

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