The more I hate this movie, the more I can find things in it that I like.
The narrative is all twisted. A girl falls for a poet and this is the main thread of the story. Around this we have a veterinirian who falls for her and another girl who also falls for the poet, but from a distance.
So let’s try to tie it all up. A girl falls for a poet who writes poems about her. She travels a long distance by train very often to go see him. They make passionate love. During these train travels she meets a veterinian who falls for her, she has an affair with him while the poet is in Tibet on a teaching assignment. Later on, the girl dies in a tragic bus accident. But there is another girl as well, an anonymous girl seen throughout the movie reading a book of poetry, supposedly a book from our poet.
The poet’s relationship with Zhou Yu (our main protoganist) mirrors her relationship with the veterinirian. This mirroring is interesting, but far too simple. In the poet relationship, she plays the wounded. In the vet relationship, she plays the wounder, but only at the end. Our anonymous reader later serves as a stand-in for the gone Zhou Yu. Our poet is troubled by this. Shame, loss, a poet’s life.
There are some very beautiful images of trains and rural landscapes. There are very beautiful skies as well. The camera is calm and serene for the most part. The mixing and editing is inspired by Kar-Wai Wong, fortunately less obvious than Purple Butterfly.
“A lover is a mirror through which one can see themselves clearly.” I know nothing of Northern China, and long and baggy flowery dresses are not appealing to me. Neither is undone wavy hair (Kar-Wai made her look much more beautiful). I believe this is cultural. I loved the ideas in this film, but the people, the emotions, and the acting, were not beautiful enough.
See this if you can tolerate the aesthetic choices.