Books and Movies Reviews

Suzhou River

Suzhou River is the second film of Lou Ye, who is the sixth generation directors in Chinese mainland. However, he directs this film in a different direction from the works of his Beijing Film Academy contemporaries Zhang Yuan (Beijing Bastards/Beijing Zazhong, 1993) and Wang Xiaoshuai (The Days/Dong-Chun De Rizi, 1993). There are some obvious similarities between this film and Wong Kaiwei's ChungKing Express/Chongqing Senlin.
The story is about four people: Meimei, Mudan, Mada and a videographer. Meimei, a performing mermaid at a nightclub, illuminates the life of the videographer. However, she slips in and out of his life. Her bouts of unexplained silence and periods of absence deeply trouble him. One day a man called Mada claims that Meimei is his long-lost love. He keeps convincing Meimei that she was his girlfriend before. Here, points of view begin to shift to Mada and Mudan. Mada, a motorcycle courier, was once asked to deliver Mudan, the daughter of a local alcohol merchant, to her aunt. When Mudan's father entertains prostitutes, she must be delivered to a relative. Then Mada and Mudan fall in love. But their tender happiness is disrupted. Mada involves with a plan to kidnap Mudan for ransom. This heavily hurts Mudan's feelings. She jumps into the Suzhou River, promising to haunt Mada forever as a mermaid. So, Mada is convinced that Mudan is still alive and keeps seeking her for years after he has been released from the jail. He believes that Meimei must be Mudan and keeps seeing Meimei. Finally Mada finds Mudan by chance but soon their bodies are hauled out of the Suzhou River after a drunken motorcycle crash. Here Suzhou River becomes a place for the exchange of birth and death. Meimei is stunned by such a love story when she finds out what Mada told her is true. She leaves the videographer at last with a question:" if I leave you someday, would you look for me, like Mada looking for Mudan?


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