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By Chris Gore | December 10, 2001

This film has not yet been reviewed. Check back later for the complete review here on Synopsis: Stanley Kwan, a veteran of melodrama and a pioneer of gay representation in the Hong Kong film scene, turns in an uncommonly affecting love story with Lan Yu.

Handsome Chen Handong, eldest son of a government bureaucrat, is the successful head of a trading company in Beijing in the late 1980s. A circumspect gay man, he enjoys an active sex life of casual encounters. Lan Yu is a young architecture student, new to Beijing, and in need of money. Entertaining a suggestion that he prostitute himself to a local bar-owner, he instead meets Handong, who takes him home for a night of passion that sets a relationship in motion. Warned by the affectionate Handong that their time together will be limited, Lan Yu ignores such rebuffs, dreaming of a long-term affair. Thus begins the battle of wills that tests each man’s convictions as heartache, disaster, and scandal take turns ravaging their unmistakable bond. At times their roles seem to reverse, with playboy Handong humbly seeking Lan Yu’s forgiveness after a failed affair, and newly hardened Lan Yu enjoying his nascent power. Slowly, the men come to realize that there is more they must experience together, whatever the cost.

Kwan conveys this deceptively simple story with a rare appreciation for all the mystery that it contains, using the subtlest cinematic means to map its characters’ fears and resilience. The film’s toned-down palette, its understated performances, and elliptical narrative technique, all belie–but do not constrain–the turbulent passions that simmer beneath the story’s surface. This delicately observed story, deeply felt and masterfully stylized, is a triumph for its maverick director.

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