Towards the end of the film, the man rewatches the amateur video made at his wedding to Xuesong seven years previously. His little daughter lies asleep on the sofa beside him; his wife didn’t come home this evening. Set in a provincial town with a bus connection to Chongqing, the film tells of a classic middle-class marital crisis in contemporary China. Lies have crept into everyday life; the couple has grown further and further apart, as financial worries have eaten away at the fabric of their relationship. Within this familiar, almost conventional narrative framework, first-time director Quan Ling transports the viewer into everyday life in today’s small town China: The longings of the young taxi driver, the big businessman’s shady tax dealings, the mother-in-law’s forgotten birthday, and rumors of the wife’s affair, which culminate in the question of whether the young daughter actually even looks like her father. Not unlike a soap opera, it is the subtle exploration of the similarities and differences between then and now, here and there which makes up a large part of the film’s appeal. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]
Pleasure. Love. tells the two stories of a young man and a young woman experiencing passionate love for the first time. Each story begins with its protagonist meeting an older lover at a dance hall and embarking on a sultry affair. The younger characters are immature and stubborn while the older ones look for innocence and sincerity, yet they all long for pure emotions and love in a materialistic society. Having left their hometowns for the big city in search of a brighter future, they learn that what is important resides in the heart. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]
Ma lost his sight in a childhood accident and now relies on his hearing. His co-workers in a Nanjing massage parlour share his fate. With a camera that follows closely as they tentatively feel their way about and a soundtrack that takes note of even the tiniest of noises, this film enters a world of darkness. Lou Ye, who worked with a mixed cast of blind and sighted actors, follows his protagonists through their lives for a while, exploring their desires and dreams, but also sketching the reality of life in modern day China.
There’s Dr Wang, who gets dragged into his brother’s illegal money transactions, and his fiancé Kong, who knows that her parents would never accept a blind man as her husband. Then there is Yiguang, who lost his sight in a mining accident and who takes Ma off to a brothel. There’s also the young prostitute Mann, with whom Ma falls in love. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]