2010, colour, 1.85:1, 94 mins
Directed by Zhou Xiaowen (周曉文)
By Derek Elley
Tue, 05 October 2010, 17:47 PM (HKT)
Modest but solid migrant-worker drama, with a striking performance by Chinese newcomer Wang Zitong. Some festivals, plus niche TV.
Shenzhen, China, the present day. Nineteen-year-old Wang Baihe (Wang Zitong) is a migrant worker from a village in Shaanxi province. She has a baby son from a one-night stand with a man from Hong Kong and a small income from making Chinese decorative knots at home. Her dream is to open a noodle restaurant and "make lots of money and become a city person" but she finds it difficult to find regular employment because of her baby boy. Her story emerges through interviews with journalist Liu Nan (Lü Liping), who is writing a book about her. When Baihe discovers her son has congenital heart disease, she tries desperate ways to raise the RMB80,000 (US$12,000) for the operation, helped by her friend and fellow migrant worker Hu Jinling (Zhao Yaqi).
The first feature film by writer-director ZHOU Xiaowen 周曉文 (Ermo 二嫫 (1994), The Emperor's Shadow 秦頌 (1995)) in 12 years, Lost 百合 (2010) gains much from a striking central performance in the title role by newcomer WANG Zitong 王梓桐, a student at Beijing's Central Academy of Drama. Wang takes a role that could have been cliched — an ever-optimistic rural innocent in the big city — and breathes life into it, putting on a convincing Shaanxi village accent in the bargain. With an ingenuous front that masks an inner stubbornness, Wang's Baihe is utterly believable in all her moods — including a teeth-rattling scene of labour pains in a dormitory — and the young actress handles moments of both light comedy (a seduction by a rich gangster type) and street drama (an attempted abduction of her baby) with equal skill.
Where the film is weaker is in building an overall dramatic arc: the script's episodic construction (the result of three years of research by Zhou into real-life stories) and interview format (with a below-par performance by veteran actress LÜ Liping 呂麗萍 as the writer) work against the viewer's emotional involvement. A clever ending does, however, give some shape to the movie, as well as making succinct social points.
Aside from Wang and Lü, and an especially good performance by ZHAO Yaqi 趙雅淇 as Baihe's best friend, the other roles are basically extended cameos. HD camerawork by ZHAO Defeng 趙德峰 is smooth and well-composed in exteriors, and LIU Cong 劉聰's understated music adds occasional texture. Though it's way more modest than Zhou's earlier movies that established his name in the '90s, Lost is a solidly professional return that could also announce a star of the future.
Film was previously known as Baihe.
ContactSales: Xi'an Xiaowen Films, Beijing (email@example.com)
Premiere: Beijing Screenings, 8 Sep 2010. Theatrical release: China, 8 Mar 2011.
Presented by Xi'an Xiaowen Films (CN). Produced by Xi'an Xiaowen Films (CN), Qingdao Capland Property (CN), Beijing Galaxy Starlight (CN). Executive producer: Yang Shu. Producer: Zhou Xiaowen.
Script: Zhou Xiaowen. Photography: Zhao Defeng. Editing: Zhao Dongyuan. Music: Liu Cong. Production design: Shi Wei, Li Yilong. Costume design: Lin Luxi. Sound: Zhu Hongfan, Zhao Suchen. Visual effects: Zhao Kaijin.
Cast: Wang Zitong (Wang Baihe), Lü Liping (Liu Nan), Zhao Yaqi (Hu Jinling), Yeye (baby), Dong Lide (Tian Zhanping), Wang Ziheng (Daqiu), Li Liang (swindler), Lin Zemin (swindler doctor), Chen Wei (abductor), Jin Yinyan (clinic doctor), Zhou Gang (hospital doctor), Zheng Yulong (manager), Qian Yundi (creche owner), Hei Zi (teacher), Li Baixuan (teacher's wife), Da Xing (landlord), Cai Guolong (workshop manager), Tao Zui (Porsche driver), Li Runqiu (Qiang).