27 March 2006 | fnorful
Where there's a will..
...there's a Fei. And a Ying Zi and good old Mr. Huang.
The pleasure in this movie is in the senses, with great visuals, artistic camera work and period western music.
Ying and Fei are half-sisters thrown together at the will of their father. Literally. Fei was his child by a maid who was subsequently dismissed, although Fei's schooling has been supported. At his death he stipulates a reconciliation (of sorts) before Ying may inherit the estate.
The story gains a stronger emphasis as the inevitable love triangle develops with Mr. Huang, Ying's "fiance". As in so many of these doomed relationships Mr. Huang wishes "I want them both" to which a friend says "then have them both, you're the man".
The plot features yearning for family and for affection, played out without one ever being sure of the authenticity; the characters' motives are sometimes stated but more often only indicated by a glance, a shift in posture or a change in framing, often exquisitely done.
The characters pursue their destinies (always with great visual style) while almost oblivious to the impeding doom of their society collapsing, their fates foreshadowing the great changes soon to take place in Mao's China.