Money changes everything, and for those in Beijing riding the economic tiger that drives China’s powerhouse economy, the effect is head-spinning. Wanting to capture the cultural vertigo of ballooning prosperity, director Li Yu has created a contrived but affecting group character study that entangles two married couples from different socioeconomic backgrounds in a tug-of-war over a newborn baby.
Dong (Leung) is a flashy middle-aged massage-parlor mogul whose wife, Wang-mei (Jin), hasn’t borne him a child. Ping-guo (Fan) is one of his masseuses whom he rapes upon discovering her drunk after lunch one day—an event witnessed by Ping-guo’s husband, working-class window washer An-kun (Tong), who happens to be in midsqueegee during their coitus. Wang-mei, furious that her husband cheated on her, opens her legs to An-kun. And when Ping-guo finds out she’s pregnant, both men claim to be the father.
Absurdly unconvincing in its plot machinations, Lost in Beijing works in spite of itself thanks partly to an endearing cast of actors (all movie stars in China), but mainly because Li’s supple skills as a filmmaker create absorbing moments ripe with emotional potency. The situations may be forced, but the struggles with basic vices—greed, jealousy, lust, deception—are convincingly elemental.
Cast and crew