Director Lou Ye tackles another controversial film with love, sex and bruises. Lou's sexually and politically charged Summer Palace (2006) led the Chinese government to restrict him from filmmaking for five years. The Chinese auteur embarked on this project which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year.
Honestly, the film revolves mainly around sex, betrayal and illogical scenarios which you will never expect to happen, in this life at least. Perhaps the screwed up couple and their high sex drive is the nearest bet you can get.
Chinese teacher Hua (newcomer model-turned-actress Corinne Yam) and French construction work Mathieu (Tahar Rahim) met by chance on the streets in Paris and after a deep, intense kissing scene, he then raped her there, then raped turned into a passionate affair as she accepts his 'love' for her. Thereafter, it was multiples of soft-core porn scenes with the couple with unsteady shots and fast pans. The director made the choice to film the passionate scenes from the upper body onwards, with close ups on the actors' faces.
I believe the 'bruises' part of this film is the betrayal and lies that stayed between the duo. Hua eventually went back to Beijing to find her boyfriend and decides to settle down with him, although knowing that the Mathieu she left behind in Paris will be devastated. At the same time, boyfriend Mathieu tested her love towards the relationship when he 'gave' his girlfriend to his best buddy who in turned raped her.
I enjoyed how the emotions explored by viewers changed during the point where Hua returned to China to take up a translator job. During the first part of the film, the audience will feel towards Hua, and her stupidity of loving a wrong guy who couldn't give her happiness or the little things she craved for. The story smoothly transited into the second half of the film where you actually felt apologetic for Mathieu as he was betrayed and hurt by his beloved, and could see how devoted he was in the relationship.
Overall, this isn't any kind of original film that you won't think before purchasing your tickets. It's not deep in plot, but to keep your attention glued to the story is not exactly easy. Besides the sex scenes that viewers around me were quite intrigued, some were pretty much sleeping.