AsianMovieWeb logo
Original Title:
Mi guo

China 2008


Zhang Yibai

Karen Mok
Jiang Wenli
Tan Jianci
Eric Tsang
Eason Chan
Duan Bowen
Ma Sichun

Search AsianMovieWeb

Lost, Indulgence

Story: Wu Tao (Eric Tsang) is a taxi driver in Chongqing and one day he drives his car into the Yangtze river. Also sitting in the taxi was the karaoke bar girl Su Dan (Karen Mok), who suffers a compound leg fracture. She is treated at a hospital, but Wu Tao can't be found anywhere. Wu Tao's wife Li (Jiang Wenli) can't pay for Su Dan's medical care which she is supposed to provide since her husband is responsible for the accident, but she offers to her that she can live at her place along with her and her son Xiao-Chuan (Tan Jianci) so that she can take care of her. Li has two jobs in order to somehow get by and now has to deal with the death of her husband as well. Xiao-Chuan on the other hand doesn't want to believe at first that his father is dead. He needs a body as proof. Moreover, he is interested in how the accident happened. Furthermore, he uncovers that between the point of time at which his father fetched Su Dan with his taxi and the time the car plunged into the river a whole hour is missing. What happened during that hour? Su Dan doesn't want to talk about it...

Review: "Lost, Indulgence" did get some unintentional promotion as its release date has been postponed two times. The Chinese censorship had a few problems with the film but in the present work it's hardly pinpointable why this might have been the case. Has director Zhang Yibai ("Curiosity Kills the Cat", "About Love") cut his movie accordingly and removed certain parts or has the decision of the Chinese government just been an arbitrary act in the first place? This question is most likely to remain as much unanswered as the question standing in the focus of the movie. Which is also the biggest flaw in "Lost, Indulgence" as the ending might be a bit too frustrating for some and is in fact devaluating the movie as a whole. Although there are enough dramas that work out just perfectly with an open ending this isn't the case here. Apart from that Zhang's story manages to captivate the viewer in a subtle way, though. The main focus without a doubt lies on the characters and they are interesting enough to bestow a certain dynamic upon the relationships between them.

Director Zhang Yibai is capable of creating his own little world in his movies which in time can win over the viewer. The story itself unfolds very slowly and the movie also has a few moments during which the slow pacing easily could have created some droppers. However, since the characters always dominate the events the drama remains interesting all throughout and the story can maintain something uncertain. As if some sort of fog is covering everything, especially the characters. Every one of them seems to be more than what he wants others to see. Especially the how and why of the car accident is what's occupying the son who hasn't got an unproblematic relationship with his father in his lifetime, but who still doesn't want to give him up after the accident, although it's as much as certain that he is dead. The song his father listened to during his accident becomes his new favorite song to which he even dances to the point of ecstasy during one scene.

Even more striking is that the mother isn't eager to look into the circumstances under which her husband died. Does she fear the answer? And why doesn't Su Dan want to talk about what she knows? Why does she remain silent and with that is fanning the flames of Xiao-Chuan's imagination even the more? What's certain is that mother and son are trying to cope with the death of Wu Tao in their own respective way. Adding to that is that Su Dan temporarily becomes part of the small family as well which is why the mother is afraid that her son and Su Dan could get too close. A justified fear because even though Xiao-Chuan has feelings of hate for the woman at first these feelings more and more change into an interest in her, even though in a subtle way. That's not a surprise since we get to see a lot of Karen Mok's legs in the movie which creates a certain erotic atmosphere throughout the whole film. However, getting truely closer seems to be difficult for the characters as every one of them is hindered by an inner obstacle to have some sort of relationship.

How much the several individuals are truely seperated from one another is also shown in one obvious allegory. The family is living at a bridge that isn't finished yet. On both sides of the river steel structures rise over the river and face each other and the gap between them persists throughout the whole film. No one seems to be working on that bridge anymore. Even the relationship between the mother and a younger guy, played by Eason Chan, that is hinted at, is coming to a halt just like that. Maybe that's because of the picture of her husband at her place that looks down on everyone from a wall. Anyway, concerning every one of the characters a certain emptiness is running through them that maybe hasn't just been created by the loss of the patriarch. To fill this emptiness or to regenerate from the wounds that the loss brought with it is standing in the centre of the film and every character has his own method of achieving this goal.

"Lost, Indulgence" is an art-house movie that succeeds in reaching the wider audience as well provided that it's willing to deal with a rather slow pacing and appreciate the subtlety of the film. The images are well captured and create a tense, slightly melancholic atmosphere, that isn't suffocating, though. The actors can all give felicitous portraits of hurt individuals and the few dialogues get more substance because of the subtle acting. If the ending weren't so unsatisfying, also because of a soundtrack suddenly introduced that doesn't fit into the mood of the film at all and therefore destroys more than what we would have thought possible, it would have been easy to grow more fond of the character exploration. "Lost, Indulgence" can be moving but in the end misses the final touch that would have made it a really good and most of all satisfying drama. That's a pity because the movie is actually worth a look.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
Buy this movie:

Yesasia Logo