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Original Title:
Mong bat liu

Hong Kong 2003

Drama, Romance

Derek Yee Tung-Shing

Cecilia Cheung
Lau Ching-Wan
Louis Koo
Daichi Harashima
Paul Chun
Elena Kong
Paw Hee Ching

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Lost in Time

Story: Siu Wai's (Cecila Cheung) fiance, the mini bus driver Ah Man (Louis Koo), dies in a car crash. He leaves behind a 5-year old son from his first marriage. Siu Wai can't get over her loss and is a broken individual. Nonetheless, she is determined to repair the mini-bus of her fiance and drive it herself. Apart from earning her money as a bus driver she also has to raise Man's son. Doing both proves to be not that easy. Her driving skills are still lacking, the passengers aren't easy to get along with either and she is behind with paying her rent. Moreover, she oftentimes has no other choice but to leave her "son" alone at home. However, the more her parents and her sister tell her that she can't make it on her own the more stubborn and determined she gets.
When Siu Wai is almost loosing her mind Dai Fai (Lau Ching-Wan) steps into her life, a colleague of her fiance who was at the site of the accident and remained at Man's side in his last seconds. Dai Fai starts to help her with her housework, teaches her how to drive a bus and fondly takes care of 5-year old Lok Lok (Daichi Harashima). But what reason has he to help her out? As it seems he doesn't want to build up a romantic relationship with Siu Wai. Dai Fai has to cope with his own past experiences und Siu Wai at first is only thankful for his help. Nevertheless, even if it weren't their intention their relationship starts to deepen every day. Yet, they still live in their past, which prevents them to get serious about their feelings...

Review: "Lost in Time" is a ray of hope on the horizon of Hong Kong cinema and proves that the movie industry of the former British crown colony can in fact still produce profound and intensive dramas, without having to fill every role with popstars who sultify the end product.
Derek Yee creates a movie that one could have expected from South Korea, because of its sincereness and great character drawing, but surely not from Hong Kong, especially not if Cecila Cheung is part of the cast. So, I was really impressed when watching this little masterpiece. "Lost in Time" is so true to life, that you will instantly get lost in the story and the great cast does give an outstanding performance. This does not only include Lau Ching-Wan (of whom we meanwhile expect nothing less), but also and especially Cecilia Cheung!

Derek Yee ("One Night in Mongkok") tells a touching story about love, loss, grief and the strength to losen the shackles that bind us to the past. The reason why the movie works so good is pretty simple. Yee doesn't stick to familiar rules, this way also evades common clichés and has two very well elaborated characters who back up his story and look like being taken out of real life. They get the film moving in a natural way and one never has the feeling that the script is forcing any of the events. We never question anything they do, because it always remains in the boundaries of sincere human emotions. Most of all it's the little shortcomings of the characters that make the film so believable. Siu Wai's incredible stubbornness, which makes her believe that she can overcome any odds in her life, even when everything around her is falling apart, makes her in fact very humane.
Dai Fai's character also offers very much in-depth. However, we are left in the dark for quite some time until we discover why he is so courteous towards Siu Wai. Nevertheless, if you pay close attention to what's happening on screen, then you will know the reason before the resolving, because there are lots of hints about Fai's past scattered throughout the movie.

With simple pictures and without any unnecessary tricks the director tells his story. Doing so the characters, but more than anything else their emotions are in the foreground. Every one of them takes as much time as he wants until he makes the next step and luckily the script doesn't enforce anything. This way all feels very real and human. Of course, this also means that the pacing is at all times rather slow, but this isn't annoying in any way, because we soon have woven such a strong bond to the protagonists, that there is no need for extraordinary events to keep up the tension. Nevertheless, for the sake of change there are indeed some more fast-paced scenes, e.g. when Dai Fai speeds his bus through the traffic and shows Siu Wai what she has to pay attention to in order to get her passengers to their destination. You might get the idea that in Hong Kong everyone is allowed to drive as he pleases as long as there is no police nearby. Well, I guess here in Germany it's not any different...
The soundtrack also has to get some credit, because it accompanies the events on screen with fitting motives and especially the more emotional scenes are enriched by nice piano pieces withougt having this typical cheap touch to it.

Derek Yee creates some very intensive and expressive scenes, which make this film so special. For example, there are the moments when Siu Wai wants to get her "adoptive son" into an orphan asylum or when she finally talks with her father with little Lok Lok as a mediator. These scenes have something magical to them, despite or maybe just because of the simplicity of their presentation. These are also the moments that could have caused the film to drift into the overly melodramatic if it weren't for the great actors.
It's almost not necessary to commend Lau Ching-Wan's efforts. He would even give an award-worthy performance if he had to play a blind and deaf-mute guy who makes the weather forecast. And so it's no surprise, that he brings out the best of his role. At the beginning he is a bit introverted and always tries to seal away his emotions, but he soon unbends and eventually we get to know through a believable resolving end why he is the way he is.

With such a strong on-screen partner and thanks to the excellent director Cecilia Cheung's skills as an actor also flourish in an unexpected dimension. She impresses as the incredible bullish woman who wants to deal with everything on her own and can't admit to herself that everything around her starts to be too much for her. She tries to be stronger than she really is and she doesn't manage life as well as she makes everyone believe. Cheung gives her character numerous facets and proves that she is in fact a really good actress. This is not that much of a surprise, because she did already a great job in the Korean movie "Failan". However, apart from that it seems that she is unlucky with her roles, because she really is capable of being more than just the little Canto-Popstar, who is supposed to look good and nothing else. Here, she shows what she really is made of and for her efforts one really has to give her some laudation.
Moreover, the chemistry between Cheung and Lau is just as it has to be. Their feelings for one another and the obstacles that stand in their way causing them not to be able to build up a real relationship, are very natural and comprehensible.

"Lost in Time" isn't really a romance, but has more aspects of a drama, yet the movie is not only gloomy, but also conveys a heartwarming feeling. Thanks to its outstanding actors and a great director the viewer becomes an understanding companion, who never has to feel cheated by clichés or overdone melodramatic, but who instead is told a story about real and almost tangible emotions. It's just unfortunate that in Hong Kong one still doesn't seem to know how to end a movie, because the ending credits hit the screen very suddenly and unexpectedly.
"Lost in Time" is a definite recommendation and a highlight from Hong Kong in the category drama!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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