Movie Review: Zhou Yuís Train

By Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D
Movie Magazine International
In "Zhou Yuís Train," Zhou Yu (Gong Li) is a modern Chinese woman and porcelain painter who falls in love with Chin Chang (Tony Leung Ka Fai/"The Lovers") a timid librarian and aspiring poet. Chin Chang is moved by Zhou Yu and writes poetry about her. Chang is surprised when Zhou Yu visits him in his city, a several hour train ride from her home. Zhou Yu starts making the trip twice per week and eventually offers to sell inherited objects to help Chang publish his poetry.

On one of her trips to visit Chang, Zhou Yu meets an assertive and flirtatious veterinarian, Zhang Jiang (Sun Honglei) who tries to get closer to her through his interest in her porcelain. He pursues Zhou Yu persistently while she continues to pursue Chin Chang who decides to take a position in distant Tibet. When Chin Chang withdraws from Zhou Yu by leaving without even saying goodbye Zhou Yu feels desperate to prove Chang loves her. Zhang Jiang dutifully stays with Zhou Yu and comforts her through her disappointment about her fading love affair with Chang.

Zhou Yu persists in her hope that her love affair with Chang is still possible, but eventually realizes that it is a lost cause. Her friendship with the veterinarian, Zhang Jiang, evolves into a passionate and secure love, although Jiang seems to realize that Zhou Yu will never love him in the way she loved Chang.

I was sorely disappointed by "Zhou Yuís Train." It uses the trendy method of jumping around chronologically like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" which renders it confusing and unintelligible. This is the first Chinese language film that I didnít love because of its story, acting, drama, and intelligence. It seemed like this film was attempting to appeal to Westerners which made it fail. Although Gong Li is usually brilliant, she gave an unconvincing and self-conscious performance. Sun Hongleiís performance as the veterinarian was overdone, almost a caricature. Although the story sounded like had a lot of potential, the story and characters left me uninterested. "Zhou Yuís Train" is a let down, but I will wait patiently for the next Gong Li film in the attempt to recapture the enchantment that her previous films have delivered.
More Information:
Zhou Yuís Train
China/Hong Kong - 2003