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Lost in the Stars - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Xiao shi de ta

China 2022


Cui Rui
Liu Xiang

Zhu Yilong
Ni Ni
Janice Man
Du Jiang
Kay Huang
Chen Mengqi

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Lost in the Stars

Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 1

Story: He Fei (Zhu Yilong) and his wife Li Muzi (Kay Huang) have traveled to a Southeast Asian island to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. However, one day, Muzi suddenly disappears, and He Fei goes to the police every day to report his wife missing and get help finding her, but his request is rejected. He only has five days left before his visa expires. Eventually, he wakes up the following day and next to him in bed is a woman (Janice Man) who pretends to be Muzi. He calls the police, but her papers as well as the photos on both her and his cell phone prove that this woman is indeed Muzi. He Fei doesn't know what is going on, but he soon gets the help of the successful lawyer Chen Mai (Ni Ni). She suspects that a powerful organization is behind Muzi's disappearance, an organization that has kidnapped other rich people before. Chen Mai tries to follow the trail, but He Fei doesn't seem to tell her everything. The circumstances of Muzi's disappearance are strange, and while the woman who pretends to be her doesn't demand anything of He Fei at first, she later makes it clear that she won't settle for money alone. Along with He Fei the lawyer follows a trail that leads her to the man who faked the photos. But Chen Mai also has to find out the whole truth from He Fei if she wants to find Muzi.

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Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "Lost in the Stars" actually seems to incorporate several movies at once. The number of twists and turns, which even do a 180 at times, almost takes your breath away. Even though the beginning already has a decent pacing and leaves the viewer guessing about the circumstances of the events, it takes a good while until you are completely drawn into the movie. The many revelations may be entertaining, but the story goes on a rollercoaster ride that simply becomes ridiculous towards the end. Even when the events get surprisingly dark, you just can't take this thriller seriously anymore. That's why it's extremely difficult to recommend "Lost in the Stars" despite its strengths. There may be critics who feel differently, but the fact that the plot throws you in every which direction and makes you go around in circles until you are completely disoriented cannot be called good storytelling.

Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 5

Despite the aforementioned, individual aspects of the story are quite well-done. After all, the source material is a stage play by Robert Thomas, and its rights were once secured by Alfred Hitchcock. The mystery thriller is based on the Russian adaptation of the play, though, which was released as a movie under the title "A Trap for Lonely Man". Individual elements, such as the femme fatale or some of the twists and turns, should give you a clue as to why Hitchcock was interested in the play. Unfortunately, directors Cui Rui and Liu Xiang don't manage to give "Lost in the Stars" a proper direction. In addition, some scenes don't work as well as intended. An example is the confrontation between the protagonist and the woman who pretends to be his wife. It's obvious that there's supposed to be a certain kind of tension in the air, but the banter between the two seems clumsy and drags on unnecessarily.

Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 6

An equally important problem are the characters, who are only allowed to show the bare minimum about themselves, just so that a revelation can possibly present the person in a completely different light. This makes it extremely difficult to feel emotionally attached to anyone. So, the only thing left for you to do is to concentrate on the investigation. However, most of it takes place behind the scenes, so the lawyer explains that she just assigned some task to someone, and we simply get the necessary information later on. You therefore feel cheated out of some exciting investigative work. On the other hand, what we do get to see in terms of investigative work isn't really that impressive. A car chase turns out to be a lot more exciting. There is also a tiny shootout, but action is by no means in the foreground in "Lost in the Stars", instead the focus is more on solving the mystery of what happened to He Fei's wife.

Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 7

Despite all the criticism of the characters, the performances are above average. Zhu Yilong ("Lighting Up the Stars") knows how to portray the desperate husband, but every now and then he also gives his character some other facets which make you question whether he really tells the whole truth. Ni Ni ("Shock Wave 2") as the lawyer/investigator leads us through the movie quite well and some of the supporting roles aren't that bad either. The images are convincing most of the time too, and so is the charming setting of a fictitious Southeast Asian island state. Nevertheless, a rather negative thing is the broken English that is spoken by the supporting actors and would hardly be understandable without subtitles. In addition, there are constantly long flashbacks that pull us out of the events and are even accompanied by some ballads. It all seems a bit random.

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Lost in the Stars - Film Screenshot 10

Whenever "Lost in the Stars" seems to get a direction, there is a new jump in the narrative in form of the aforementioned flashbacks and/or another revelation. In the end, the story seems completely overloaded, but at the same time the explanations still make you feel like you are being taken for a fool as you already understood things the first time around. The story isn't particularly complex or clever, if you don't count the various "surprises" that nobody would be able figure out anyway or - completely contrary to that - consider the elements that are pretty obvious to start with. The last third of the movie carries things to extremes and the story becomes unintentionally funny. The scene during the credits leaves you completely confused about the supposed message of the movie. Individual parts of the story are interesting, and "Lost in the Stars" may be quite entertaining, but this thriller simply doesn't work as a coherent movie.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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