A Light Never Goes Out ★★★ – Odyssey: A Chinese Cinema Season 2023

A Light Never Goes Out ★★★ – Odyssey: A Chinese Cinema Season 2023

A Light Never Goes Out is prime melodrama and lures you in with the greatest of ease. Though, at times a touch too heavy-handed for its own good, there is still a wonderful story at play here. This is sure to be a film that will touch you.

Devastated by the loss of her skilled neon sign-making husband, his wife Mei-heung (Sylvia Chang) and her late husband’s apprentice Leo (Henick Chou) decide to carry on his unfinished wish of renovating his favourite neon sign.

Anastasia Tsang’s feature debut shows us that life keeps moving on in loss, even if we do not want it to. A relentless monster that leaves us stuck in an awful limbo as life and everything about it passes on by. She also does so well presenting the idea that loss can be much more than just about a person. Steeped in nostalgia, A Light Never Goes Out knows how to work your emotions while playing it quite safely.

While the loss of Bill is the heart of the film, the focus by Tsang on the ever-fading skill in neon light sign making in Hong Kong is what keeps you thoroughly engaged. Her film soon becomes a love letter to the now-outdated craft. We see flashbacks of younger iterations of Mei-heung and Bill in a city full of life as their love blossoms and the connection the city has to its lights. The lights bring a vibrancy to Hong Kong that you never fully appreciate until it’s gone. Once those flashbacks fade away and we are returned to the present, life seems duller to the point that it is almost jarring for the audience and the characters. Time has moved on from what they knew; as mentioned, it is brutally unforgiving in its remorseless nature.

The symbolism of the loss of Bill and his former profession eroding away is not overly subtle, yet it works and hits all the notes you need it to. We see Mei-heung struggling without Bill, trying to forge her own path, but falling into what she remembers of her late husband. Playing slot games and eventually taking up the old profession. Similarly, like the neon lights, she learns of Bill’s importance to his city. How he kept businesses afloat or helped them thrive with his craft of neon sign making. As much as it brings us to care for the deceased Bill, it does the same for the art of neon light-making. It is often easier to feel nostalgic, to reminisce than to move on, and it is felt fully in the film.

Tsang adds a lovely touch at the end of A Light Never Goes Out that will have you lingering and longing for the art to make a return. As a character states later in the film, ‘some things are meant to be forgotten’, but thanks to this fittingly sentimental film, we are reminded that we do not necessarily have to take that option. Remembering, reminiscing, whatever you want to call it, is always worth it, even if only for a moment. Art, like a person, gives us memories to cherish. With co-writer So-Man Tsoi, Tsang never forgets that, as Mei-heung and Leo encounter each person who has a memory that means so much to them, you feel for them.

Throughout the film, you are taken in by just how gorgeously shot and lit it is. Be it the reflections of the neon lights in flashback scenes or as Heung and Leo are crafting new lights, you are fully immersed in their world when the script stumbles here and there. The visuals keep it all running together even when the film’s pace verges on moving at a crawl. The lighting of these lights is so luscious that you wonder why on Earth anyone would replace it with LED lights, or in some cases, with nothing at all.

Great care has been presented in how these neon signs have been shot. As if these signs are precious jewels before us. For the audience to be mesmerised. Yet, that is not the only care given to the film. Tsang has an apparent deep respect for the craftspeople who made these signs and to see how the cast work on the glass as the artisans would. It immerses you greatly, and by having the cast around the glass and lights so often, we are welcomed with some terrific shots.

A Light Never Goes Out occasionally breaches into the overly melodramatic, but when it centres back into its strengths of being a considerate family drama, coupled with the sheer amount of love poured into the film, you let it slide. Couple this with Chang’s and Cecilia Choi’s performance as Prism, and you have an admirable piece that satisfies.


For more information on Odyssey: A Chinese Cinema Season click here

For other films reviewed from the Season, please see below!

Finding Bliss

Support Us

I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity. That would bring in more costs. So, for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self-sufficient. Well enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…


You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.

Buy Us A Coffee

Our other method if through the wonderful Buy us a Coffee feature, but seeing as we are not the biggest fans of coffee, a pizza will do! We keep it fairly small change on that as well and it allows you to give just a one off payment, so no need to worry about that monthly malarky! We even have a little icon on the website for you to find it and help us out with the running of the website.

Social Media

You can also support us via Twitter and Facebook by giving us a follow and a like. Every one helps!

One thought on “A Light Never Goes Out ★★★ – Odyssey: A Chinese Cinema Season 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: