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.
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).