CHINA FILM “SPRING FEVER” 春风沉醉的晚上 REVIEW
Mainland CHINA film director LOU YE’s works can be best described in 3 words:
thwartsy, artsy and fartsy.
Count me in.
I am his avid follower.
He’s hails from conservative CHINA
yet he is devil-may-care,
This dude has balls.
He piques and thrives on subjects of controversy.
He defies the devine order.
He delves unhesitatingly into thought-provoking fare that rages the human condition.
He’s one bad boy who has been banned from making films by the Chinese Authorities for five years.
Politically, China is as Communist as ever.
The country operates under the highly centralized, single-party rule of the Communist Party.
Every region, whether it’s a province or a city, has two sets of leadership: local government functionaries and Communist Party officials.
Therefore CHINA sees red when LUO’S film SUMMER PALACE shocks and exposes full frontal nudity
and reeks boldly of sexual undertones.
“You BAN me?
Well, I’ll move in through another way.”
That’s LUO YE’s motto.
Despite the brouhaha, he’s resisting the order.
Never say die.
Undaunted he went on to direct his latest film SPRING FEVER which was shot surreptitiously in Nanjing
and was registered as a Hong Kong-French co-production to avoid attracting notice from censors.
The film was shown in competition at the 62nd CANNES FILM FESTIVAL where it won the prize for best screenplay.
LUO may be trampled, belittled, yet he perseveres.
No forces can destroy or dampen his spirit.
Take a cue from this fella, folks.
Here’s an elaboration on SPRING FEVER, his latest offering on a confusion of genders:
A woman LIN XUE (Jiang Jiaqi) and a man WANG PING (Wu Wei) are happily married.
Or so it seems.
The woman seems to sense that the “spark” in their conjugal bliss is in the throes of the dying embers.
She promptly hires an unemployed photographer LUO HAITAO (Cheng Si Cheng) to trail her husband and to take damning pictures of his lover.
Truth be told, she is appalled to learn that her husband’s lover is a MAN.
This man is JIANG CHENG (Qin Hao), a vain and reckless travel agent who often frequents a gay bar and whenever he feels like it, he gets on stage and performs in drag.
He may appear manly but he’s really a moanful queenie deep inside,
taking the sexual role of a passive bottom.
LIN XUE then confronts JIANG CHENG and demands that he gives up on her man which he does without hesitation, much to the dismay of the male lover who subsequently commits suicide due to grief.
Now our story shifts to the photographer LUO.
He has a girl friend called LI TING (Tan Zhuo) who works in a counterfeit dress factory.
LUO gets acquainted with JIANG CHENG and strangely, raw emotions developed between the two, resulting in a sexual union.
Confusion of genders?
Towards the end, the two guys and one gal embark on an absurd threesome relationship fueling more complications because this takes place in modern day CHINA.
This is what SPRING FEVER or THE INTOXICATION OF THE SPRING BREEZE IN THE NIGHT (Chinese Translation) wants us to believe.
The film’s visual treatment oscillates between lust and frustration, and as the past and present are hauntingly interwined, so too are the personas of the story’s characters.
“I didn’t film homosexuality, I showed feelings and complex relationships,” director LOU YE had addressed the media. “While evaluating these relationships, I show a complex world.”
For this film, Lou used unknown actors who were given near free reign on the set.
All the actors expressed that they weren’t concerned with the official repercussions on their careers for taking on such explicit roles.
“Regarding these love scenes… It doesn’t matter if they’re homosexual or heterosexual, I shot them in the same way,” LOU commented when addressing China’s general conservative approach to same-sex relationships. “Sex is important to life in general.”
Let’s say this Reviewer is truly confused and perplexed by the ever changing hearts and minds of the leads.
Somewhere in the course of its two-hour running time, this film loses steam, and the roller-coaster ride hits bumpy grounds.
It is obvious that the profound examination of sexual identities, notwithstanding the stark loneliness demonstrated by the lead actors will soon start to descend into crumbling oblivion as the storyline deepens.
Every character in this movie carries his fair share of emotional baggage.
LUO YE’s script is mostly morbid and resorts to absurd melodramatics and an extraordinarily misjudged ending to manipulate the audience’s emotions.
Not the best of LOU YE’s works, SPRING FEVER is nonetheless, still worth a watch.