Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lost in Beijing (CHINESE)

(Ping Guo)
Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Complications Abound in Class-Conscious Revenge Drama

Ping Guo (Bingbing Fan) and An Kun (Dawei Tong), a young couple from the sticks, moved to China’s capital in search of the higher standard of living to be found in the big city. Thusfar, however, being in Beijing has been a bit of a bust, since the best paying job she could find was sponging men off in a sleazy massage parlor, and that only because she lied about the fact that she’s married. Meanwhile, her husband has taken on dangerous work as a skyscraper window-washer, so the two made do until the fateful day her rich boss (Tony Leung Ka Fai) decided to force himself on her.
Wouldn’t you know it, but An Kun just happened to be squeejeeing the plate glass of the room as Liu pounced on his wife, and he had to watch helplessly while dangling outside on the scaffolding. This didn’t stop him from later angrily confronting Liu, who offered them an insulting 2000 yuan to keep quiet.
But rather than report the sexual assault to the authorities, An Kun comes up with the bright idea of asking the attacker’s wife, Mei (Elaine Jin) for more money, 20,000 in yuans. But she says her husband would rather save face than pay blackmail. Then, angry that her husband had cheated on her, Mei suggests that the two of them sleep together, like their spouses had, implying that the rape had been consensual.
An Kun agrees and the two embark on a steamy affair. And that might have been the end of it, except that his wife misses her next period. Pregnant, the question becomes “Who’s the daddy?”
This is the intriguing, incestuous scenario which unfolds in Lost in Beijing, as messy a dysfunctional relationship drama as you could hope to witness on screen. And as complicated as what you’ve just read sounds, the plot only thickens as the baby’s birth approaches.
Without giving away any of this riveting romp’s unpredictable developments, suffice to say that our compromised protagonists find themselves in a complicated predicament about as easy to unscramble as egg drop soup. How do you say “Jerry Springer” in Mandarin?

Excellent (4 stars)
In Mandarin with subtitles.
Running time: 112 minutes
Studio: New Yorker Films

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