Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lost and Love

I almost let a whole week go by without visiting the cinema for a variety of reasons - it's been a few days of getting upset over nuisances only to get reminded that they are, in fact, minor things. I didn't quite feel bad about checking the late show of this out, although it did make me kind of a zombie on the bus home to see how my mother and grandmother were holding up the next day.

Shi gu (Lost and Love)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 20 March 2015 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, DCP)

There is an unabashed simplicity to Lost and Love that might often be called deceptive by those who might want to praise the film, especially if its early stumbling didn't quite click with those viewers. That may not be the case; it's quite possible that this movie about a man who has long strove to be reunited with his abducted son is just what it appears to be, and works because the emotions involved are easy to grasp.

Two missing children are introduced at the start: Zhou Tianyi, an infant who was just taken recently, and Lei Da, who disappeared fifteen years ago, when he was about a year and a half old. Tianyi's mother Su Quin (Ni Jing-yang) is practically hysterical as she stands at the spot where she last saw her daughter, but Da's father Lei Zekuan (Andy Lau Tak-wah) is grimly determined - he's spent much of the past fifteen years crisscrossing China on a motorcycle, trailing a banner with a picture of his son taken in 1999. Spotting a poster for Tianyi, he adds another banner to the back of his motorcycle. When he crashes, young mechanic Zeng Shuai (Jing Bo-ran) repairs the machine, and reveals that he has a child abduction sorry of his own to tell.

It's hard to imagine this turning into an optimistic film without some very unlikely turns off the plot, and to his credit, writer/director Peng San-yuan never losses sight of how even a happy ending to one of these tales will likely be gut-wrenching for some of the good people involved. He sets the tone right from the start when he first shows a worn-down Zekuan handing out flyers on a ferry; one bystander makes the reasonable observation that this quest has likely reached the point of futility and another immediately starts shouting him down. As much as the film may frame itself as a lonely quest, it also acknowledges a pervasive generosity of spirit, from Zekuan's willingness to add others' searches to his own to the network of people around the country willing to help despite their lack of the same personal stake.

Full review on EFC.

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