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Lost Romance
AKA: The Story of Rose "You're not my sister, right?"
Maggie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat
Year: 1986
Director: Yeung Fan
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung, Ha Ping, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting, Cheung Kwok-Keung, Chan Koon-Chung, Chan Yuen-Lai, Chun Wai-Man, Lau Kuen-Kuen
The Skinny: The megastar pairing looks to be a slam dunk, but Yeung Fan's romantic drama is poorly developed and rather trite. The film is certainly beautiful to look at, though that can only get you so far.
by Kozo:
     Casting Chow Yun-Fat and Maggie Cheung opposite one another would seem like a guarantee of cinematic quality, but director Yeung Fan doesn't help out much. His beautiful but calculated drama Lost Romance (AKA: The Story of Rose) features fine art direction but a plot that's better suited to an American soap opera. Those tuning in for the actors might go home happy, but those expecting a good movie may be unsatisfied.
     Maggie Cheung is the eponymous Rose, a free-spirited girl who gets in all sorts of romantic entanglements. Despite her desire to remain single and without attachment, she bewitches all manner of men who venture near her personal space. Her brother Charles (Chow Yun-Fat) worries, as she seems to create more problems for men than any woman should. More importantly, Charles worries that Rose will never marry for love. Compounding this is Rose's liason with an engaged architect named Tony. She insists that he's the one for her, but a happy ending is denied. Depressed, Rose retreats to Paris where she enters into a loveless marriage, much to Charles' dismay. Then...Charles dies.
     While the above may seem like a spoiler, it really isn't. Chow Yun-Fat gets ample screen time as both Charles and Ka-Ming, who becomes Rose's new suitor. Of course she finds a new - and more fulfilling - love with her brother's dead ringer, but that isn't the end to her problems. In the meantime, she's bewitched an interior designer and is still incredibly despressed over Tony. Then...someone else dies.
     The "tragic" aspects of this film are manufactured beyond belief. We're meant to think that the character of Rose is "special", and that her story is a compelling one, but is it? Is Rose a victim of her own irresistibility, or is she at fault? And, does this make her more sympathetic? The answer from this reviewer is a resounding "NO." Maggie Cheung is beautiful and a fine actress, and she imbues Rose with an inner life that rings true. Still, Rose comes off as a self-pitying woman who's bad luck for any guy who comes near her. Her overdone character, heavy-handed plot and unnecessary tragedy make the film nothing more than a manufactured weepie which would get better play as a "Movie of the Week" starring Jaclyn Smith.
     And, the whole "brother as lover" subplot seems more than a little creepy. Even when Chow Yun-Fat and Maggie Cheung play siblings, there is an air of sexual tension and romantic longing that's as obvious as the homoeroticism in a John Woo film. Then, they (that is, Rose and Ka-Ming) finally get together, but it's clear that Rose sees her brother in this new lover. What this incestous subtext is supposed to mean is anybody's guess, but it just feels wrong. Yeung Fan was apparently aiming at a charged romantic tragedy, but the result is creepy, cheesy melodrama which belongs in a fifty-cent pulp magazine.
     As artifice, Lost Romance certainly succeeds. Everyone in the film lives in perfect white surroundings highlighted by just the right splash of color (from curtains, sofas or flowers). When Rose laments her inability to choose between men, we get to watch both Maggie Cheung's divine face AND a perfectly arranged flower vase! Yeung Fan (who's also a photographer) knows how to compose a frame, but handling drama is another matter entirely. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Far Sun Film
Cantonese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Conversation between director Yonfan and critic Paul Fonoroff

image courtesy of Far Sun Film Co., Ltd.

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