Kelly Chan treads on C’est La Vie, Mon Cheri territory in this absorbing drama from Lee Chi-Ngai.
She’s Lam, a rich girl afflicted with leukemia who is
searching for hope in her tired existence. Lam seeks
salvation in the form of handsome sailor Ted (Mr. SDU,
Michael Wong). Ted’s from Scotland and his tales of
the “Edge of the World” fascinate the morbid (and doomed)
Lam. Unfortunately, Ted disappears and she tries to
find him before he leaves Hong Kong or she kicks off. Her
search for Ted leads her to an unlikely friend, That
Worm or Mr. Lost and Found (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Mr.
Lost and Found specializes in finding the misplaced,
and what begins as a search for one man ultimately turns
into a search for Lam's identity. Hope appears in places
that she didn't expect, and her journey of discovery
becomes the path followed by the audience as well.
Less cheesy than it sounds, Lost and Found is a wonderful film that explores
our relationship to death and the magical power of hope,
and manages to do it with touching emotion and eloquence.
Sure the terminal disease thing is overdone, but there’s
a certain freshness to Lee Chi-Ngai's screenplay. Much
of what is said concerning mortality and resignation
to fate is done through events around Lam and not her
specific tear-jerking story. The main tool for this
is Mr. Lost and Found, a truly engaging character who’s
played effectively by Takeshi Kaneshiro. Kaneshiro's
talent for playing sympathetic, righteous characters
has never been more evident. If there's a weak
link to the film, it's Kelly Chan. She's a remarkably
beautiful young woman, but she hasn't shown herself
to be much of an actress just yet. Her natural blankness
helps the terminal illness part of her character, but
the self-hating part of her nature never rings true.
Another problem is Lam's rampant
voice-over. Perhaps the film’s largest fault, it reduces
much of the film's magic to a series of expository passages.
Show is always better than tell, but thankfully what's
told is well worth watching. The script and story are
creative and affecting, and Lee Chi-Ngai’s direction
is sharp without being overwrought. Aiding matters is
the music, which mixes Canto-pop with music by Mark
Lui and Leonard Cohen. Also, the cinematography is austere
and pleasing, especially during Lam’s final journey
to the “Edge of the World.” The themes of life and death,
love and hope come full circle and she finds that perhaps
what she lost is not as precious as what she found.
Lee Chi-Ngai delivers both a worthy theme and a terrific
movie. (Kozo 1996)