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Sky Lover
Chinese: 天上的戀人

Dong Jie and Liu Ye
Year: 1999
Director: Jiang Qinmin
Writer: Dong Xi (original novel)
Cast: Liu Ye, Dong Jie, Tao Hon
The Skinny: This picturesque and emotionally-sound Mainland drama features refreshing storytelling, but an actual story that refuses to end in a conclusive manner. Still, those looking for non-bombastic film that's thoughtful and pleasing could find Sky Lover intriguing. Dong Jie and Liu Ye are both excellent.
 

Review
by Kozo:

Mainland stars Liu Ye (Lan Yu) and Dong Jie (Happy Times) star in Sky Lover, a picturesque and quiet drama set in the rural mountains of China. Liu Ye is Jia Kuan, a mostly-deaf villager who's the kindest, hardest-working fellow in the village despite his disability. When the mute Yu Chen (Dong Jie) wanders into town looking for her brother, she forms a makeshift family with Jia Kuan and his blind father.

The trio don't let their disabilities bring them down. In fact, they seem even more determined to help each other live their lives as best they can. For Jia Kuan, this means finding a way to marry Zhu Ling (Tao Hon), the vivacious town beauty who really has a thing for someone else. Jia Kuan's father and Yu Chen do their best to help Jia Kuan fulfill his heart's desire, but there are other forces at work. Feelings are realized but repressed, and lives go on to their opaque conclusions. Meanwhile, someone in the audience yawns.

Sky Lover is not a film for audiences demanding exposition, as director Jiang Qinmin seems adamantly against telling any sort of overt story. The lives of Jia Kuan, Zhu Ling, and Yu Chen are explored entirely through actions and expressions, and not through any sort of verbal epiphanies or heavy voiceover. The effect is a refreshing one, as the characters and situations slowly become known to the viewer, becoming more recognizable and sympathetic as the film progresses.

Liu Ye brings likable charm and affecting emotion to Jia Kuan, and Dong Jie is picture-perfect as the silent, but eminently expressive Yu Chen. The rural locations are lovely, and the storytelling is above all earnest and thoughtful. People who enjoy discovering film and letting it quietly speak to them might find Sky Lover to be a minor, but welcome diversion.

On the other hand, Jiang Qinmin doesn't really push the conflicts or emotions, and as a result, many of the film's most interesting relationships and ideas get seemingly forgotten or even dropped. There is a charming reality to the rural life of these villagers, but that's not something that will necessarily speak to everyone out there in movie-watching land. Let's face it: this sort of filmmaking bores a great many moviegoers, among them the people who consistently provide Hong Kong schlockmeister Wong Jing with the means for further projects. Only those who inherently enjoy this sort of quiet storytelling should even bother seeking the film out.

As such, Sky Lover is for a very specific audience, and is not a film that should be recommended to the viewing masses. And even those inclined towards Jiang Qinmin's earnest style might decide that Sky Lover really doesn't do that much. It's a pleasant, quietly involving experience that ends in an a rather inconclusive, unfulfilling manner. Even the most artistically-minded might like a little payoff, but Sky Lover just floats away like the bittersweet passing of unrequited emotion. (Kozo 2004).

 
  Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 2.0
Removable and Chinese subtitles
Theatrical Trailer

 
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