Film director shows her mettle

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-11 07:43
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The film Love After Love stars actress Ma Sichun (pictured) as a young woman who falls for a playboy portrayed by actor Eddie Peng, who leads her astray. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With her new directorial effort Love After Love, Ann Hui - the first female director to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Venice International Film Festival - finds herself at the center of controversy.

The film, adapted from writer Eileen Chang's first published short story Aloeswood Incense: The First Brazier, was released across the Chinese mainland on Oct 22.

Despite gathering a stellar crew, including cinematographer Christopher Doyle, a winner of many Hong Kong Film Awards, and Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, the film has received mixed reviews with a majority of the criticism revolving around the casting.

Set in Hong Kong in the late 1930s, the film recounts the tale of actress Ma Sichun's protagonist. A high school student from Shanghai, she visits her widowed aunt-a tycoon's wealthy concubine-to ask her to support her education. Seduced by the luxurious lifestyle, she falls for a playboy, portrayed by Eddie Peng, before surrendering herself to a life of actual, and moral, corruption.

The original story depicts Ma's character as a slender woman with a "flat and beautiful face "whose eyes are long and lovable, and Peng's role as a "bloodless-skinned mixed-race philanderer, whose lips are as pale as those of a plaster statue". However, disgruntled fans of the book feel that the appearance and temperament of both Ma and Peng in the film do not match their literary depictions.

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