The Garden of Evening Mists
Directed byTom Lin Shu-yu
Screenplay byRichard Smith
Based onThe Garden of Evening Mists
Novel by Tan Twan Eng
CinematographyKartik Vijay
Edited bySoo Mun Thye
Music byOnn Sann
Release date
  • 4 October 2019 (2019-10-04) (BIFF)
  • 29 November 2019 (2019-11-29) (Taiwan )
  • 26 December 2019 (2019-12-26) (Hong Kong)
  • 16 January 2020 (2020-01-16) (Malaysia & Singapore)
  • 24 July 2021 (2021-07-24) (Japan)
Running time
120 minutes
(partial Japanese, Malay, Cantonese)

The Garden of Evening Mists (Chinese: 夕霧花園) is a 2019 Malaysian English-language drama film. Set in 1940s Malaya, a woman survives the Japanese war camp. To build a garden for her sister who dies, she travels to Cameron Highlands, and become student to a mysterious Japanese gardener, while their forbidden love relationship blooms.

The film received positive reviews. Adapted from the 2012 English-language novel of same name by Tan Twan Eng, the film is directed by Tom Lin Shu-yu, and stars Lee Sin-je, Hiroshi Abe and Sylvia Chang.

It received nine nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Leading Actress, and won for Best Makeup and Costume Design. The film was released on 29 November 2019 in Taiwan; 26 December 2019 in Hong Kong; 16 January 2020 in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore; 24 July 2021 in Japan.[1]


The 1940s Malaya was once occupied by the Japanese army. Local women Teoh Yun Ling and her sister are imprisoned and tortured in a brutal Japanese war camp. After the war, Yun Ling survives the horror, but her sister did not. Haunted by her sister's tragic death, she travels to the local Cameron Highlands to meet the mysterious renowned Japanese gardener, Nakamura Arimoto. The gardener resides there and is building Yugiri, a small Japanese garden. She decides to learn from him and build a garden to pay tribute of her late sister. As the garden slowly grows on the tea hills, tender feelings between them blossoms to a forbidden love affair, that changes hatred and deeply entrenched beliefs. How will their story go?[2]


The background is set in 1940s and 1950s of Malaya (present day Malaysia). During the period, the country was a British colony, known as British Malaya. In 1942, the Japanese army occupied Malaya, forcing British to retreat. Malaya was ruled by Japanese army for three years, until 1945 after Japan surrendered. The British then returned to occupy, while independence movement rose. In 1948, conflict between British army and Malayan communist party led to irregular guerrilla wars until 1960. Malaya was declared emergency for these 12 years. Malaysia achieved independence in 1957.



The novel and film is set in Cameron Highlands, where most of the scenes are filmed. In the picture are tea plantation hills.
The novel and film is set in Cameron Highlands, where most of the scenes are filmed. In the picture are tea plantation hills.

The film is based on the 2012 English-language novel of same name, written by Tan Twan Eng. The book was well received and won the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize.[3] In 2014, it was announced that the novel would be adapted by Malaysian film company Astro Shaw and HBO Asia, with support from National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS).[4][5] The film was originally to be written and directed by Malaysian filmmakers.

Taiwanese director Tom Lin Shi-yu was eventually chosen to direct, while screenwriting was passed to Scottish screenwriter, Richard Smith. The cast are Malaysian actress Lee Sinje, Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang, British actors David Oakes, Julian Sands, Scottish actor John Hannah, Malaysian actress Serene Lim and Singaporean actress Tan Kheng Hua.[6][7]

The production team members are from Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Australia and the United Kingdom.[8] Principal photography started in July 2018.[9] Filming took place in Malaysia, including Cameron Highlands. The internment camp and small gardens in the film are constructed.[10] 90% of the dialogue in the film is English, with some Cantonese, Japanese and Malay language.


The film received positive reviews from audience and critics.[11][12][13] The film had its world premiere at the 24th Busan International Film Festival on 4 October 2019. It was screened in November 2019 at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival and Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2019.

The film was released on 29 November 2019 in Taiwan, 26 December 2019 in Hong Kong, and 16 January 2020 in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

The Malaysian version of the film is 1 hour and 53 minutes, which is slightly different from the international version of 2 hours. It is reported that the Malaysian version has an affectionate scene cut by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia, and some scenes have been slightly adjusted, the film is still overall complete and the cut does not affect the plot.[14]


At the 56th Golden Horse Awards, the film was nominated for nine awards, and won one award. It was nominated for Best Feature Film, Best Director for Tom Lin, Best Leading Actress for Lee Sinje, it won the Best Makeup and Costume Design.[15]

Awards Category Recipients Result
56th Golden Horse Awards (2019)[16] Best Feature Film The Garden of Evening Mists Nominated
Best Director Tom Lin Shu-yu Nominated
Best Leading Actress Lee Sinje Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Richard Smith Nominated
Best Cinematography Kartik Vijay Nominated
Best Art Direction Penny Tsai Pei-ling, Lum Heng-soon, Chen Hsuan-shao Nominated
Best Makeup & Costume Design Nikki Gooley, Biby Chow, Penny Tsai Pei-ling, Nina Edwards Won
Best Original Film Score Onn San Nominated
Best Film Editing Soo Mun-thye Nominated


  1. ^ "The Garden of Evening Mists: A heart-breaking Malaysian romance film". Free Malaysia Today. 13 January 2019.
  2. ^ "International trailer of The Garden of Evening Mists". Youtube.
  3. ^ "Interview: Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng teared up as he watched the book brought to life on big screen". Malay Mail. 13 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Film Update: Adaptation of The Garden of Evening Mists being written". The Daily Seni. 20 May 2015.
  5. ^ "HBO and Malaysia's Astro Partner on 'The Garden of Evening Mists'". Variety. 10 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Lee Sin Je, Hiroshi Abe, Sylvia Chang to star in Astro Shaw, HBO Asia's 'Garden Of Evening Mists'". Screen Daily. 10 May 2018.
  7. ^ "9 Questions With The Garden Of The Evening Mists's Star and Malaysian Sensation Lee Sinje". Malaysia Tatler. 22 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Interview: Director Tom Lin Searches for History and Humanity at The Garden of Evening Mists". The News Lens. 19 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Movie adaptation of award-winning novel The Garden Of Evening Mists starts filming in Malaysia". The Straits Times. 3 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Lee Sinje returns to Malaysia for 'The Garden Of Evening Mists' film". The Star. 16 July 2018.
  11. ^ Elizabeth Kerr (14 October 2019). "Film Review: The Garden of Evening Mists". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Daphne K. Lee (16 December 2019). "Film Review: The Garden of Evening Mists". The News Lens.
  13. ^ James Marsh (25 December 2019). "Film review: The Garden of Evening Mists". South China Morning Post.
  14. ^ "Premiere of The Garden of Evening Mists; Malaysian version's bathtub passion scene is adjusted". China Press (in Chinese). 8 January 2020.
  15. ^ "The Garden Of Evening Mists nominated for nine Golden Horse Awards". The Star Online. 2 October 2019.
  16. ^ "'The Garden Of Evening Mists' nominated for nine Golden Horse Awards". The Star. 2 October 2019.