Women's Private Parts

Reviewed by YTSL

At the start of this award-winning documentary, its fledgling director -- Barbara Wong Chun Chun -- appears on screen to make the suggestion that: “If men understood more about women, the world would be better...or they [i.e., the male portion of it] would be horrified”!  Then, without much further ado, a series of frank, revealing and revelatory feeling personal interviews and group discussions get conducted plus facilitated by the head of this Jenny Wong produced offering’s all-female crew (at least two others of whom also make their own in-front-of-the-camera contributions to on-going conversations that center on such “hot” subjects as masturbation and lesbian love).

Barbara Wong Chun Chun with producer Raymond Wong
For those who are wondering whether WOMEN’S PRIVATE PARTS consists entirely of “mere” talk, here’s pointing out that this Mandarin Films backed production does also contain such as: filmed footage of the kind of show in which g-stringed wearing men entertain a very enthusiastic crowd of females; a tour of an S&M facility (that’s supplemented by demonstrations of how some of its equipment is utilized by this segment’s flamboyant trans-sexual -- or cross-dressing male -- star performer); and -- perhaps most shocking of all, not least because I was wondering whether it was an illegal invasion of at least one person’s privacy -- an apparently hidden-camera recording of a man’s clearly confident plus comfortable interactions with a soft-voiced prostitute (one that Ms. Wong notes was over and done with in the space of 18 minutes and 34 seconds).  This having been said, I really would like to emphasize though that the bulk of this 99 minute long Category III work really is made up of (shared) female chat, and both on a wider range of subjects and by a more diverse set of interviewees than I had actually thought would be the case for an offering whose title I had originally interpreted as referring to females’ sexual organs.

Among the interesting -- and sometimes gleeful as well as embarrassed laughter inducing (on the part of the interviewees but also this (re)viewer) -- topics that get covered in WOMEN’S PRIVATE PARTS are: orgasms, their consuming lots of energy, the successful or unsuccessful faking of them, and why women often feel obliged to fake having them; female reactions to their sex partners needing and taking Viagra; what (different) women want (from their partners); what women perceive men seeming to invariably want (of (their) women); male and female condoms; and the conception of sex as a form of communication (as opposed to or as well as a source of (physical) pleasure).  Some of the intriguing questions that get posed of more than one of the individuals who appear in that which was shot in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen -- and that alternately elicit emotional and considered responses -- include: whether a woman would prefer her significant other to have a mistress or see a prostitute; whether it would be better to be the mistress or wife; who women care for more -- their husband or son(s); and if asked to make a single choice of money, husband or child(ren), which one they would go for.

With regards to those who agreed to share their views and opinions with the audience as well as makers of WOMEN’S PRIVATE PARTS: As one might expect, some of these personalities -- who range in years from late middle age to a girl who was not more than four years old -- are more colorful and memorable than others.  Among those who I most enjoyed watching and listening to -- in large part because I found their revelations to be particularly fascinating -- were: an extroverted cigar-chomping female who appeared in the first few minutes of the documentary (and seemed to really enjoy light-heartedly tormenting her more modest pals plus fellow discussion participants); the quite rational looking woman who divulged that she has wanted the man/men she loved to die (so that there would be no chance of their ever leaving her for another individual!); the tomboyish individual who talked about how her lesbian relationships have all proceeded one small step at a time; and another tomboy who, unlike her friend, revealed her having in a total belief in the romantic possibility of her loving only one person for her whole life (and that one person loving her back for that same length of time).

Of the few recognizable celebrities who appeared in WOMEN’S PRIVATE PARTS, Annabel Chong came across as way more intelligent than I have to admit to thinking that she would be, and Ann Hui as extremely self-critical but also honest.  Even while the former provided the work with one of its more amusing sections and the latter with some comments that may help people to better understand her movies as well as her personality, Siu Yam Yam (AKA Yum Yum Shaw) it was who contributed one of its most pensive moments (when she told the story of her young son coming home from school and asking her whether she had been a porn star) as well as most winning (with her tale of how she handled that situation and conversation with a child she loved and wanted to protect but also be honest to).

Even while a lot of credit is due to the film’s interviewer and writer cum director for coming up with the questions to ask that she did, much praise also ought to go to those who agreed to open up in front of the cameras (of cinematographers Ellen Pau and Lam Wah Chuen) in settings as varied as a children’s playground, private living rooms, a park and a restaurant area.  All in all, the fact that only a minority of those who appeared in WOMEN’S PRIVATE PARTS -- notably a woman who stated the case for why it was more ideal to be a mistress than spouse, and a gigolo who was asked to comment about his twenty-something vis a vis thirty-something and forty-something year old clients -- had their identity and/or face concealed in any way may actually be a point that in as of itself is illuminating of the society and culture of which these people are a part.

My rating for this film:  8.