Watching The Equation of Love and Death (李米的猜想) is, at times, unexpectedly enthralling. Much like its enigmatic characters, the film is a restless mystery about lost love and obsession, with shady criminal elements thrown in.
Chinese writer and director Cao Baoping (曹保平) deserves praise for his original style, but without Zhou Xun’s (周迅) absorbing performance, the film’s lack of narrative would have been disappointing.
The Equation opens by examining the restless state of its heroine’s mind. Li Mi (Zhou Xun) is a chain-smoking taxi driver who compulsively counts out numbers and poses strange questions to her bewildered passengers. The source of Li’s anguish is her boyfriend, Fang Wen (Deng Chao, 鄧超), who disappeared four years ago but continues to send her letters that she religiously memorizes and guards ferociously.
On a typical hazy day in Kunming, Li parrots her usual quandaries to two rural hick-type passengers played by Wang Yanhui (王硯輝) and Wang Baoqiang (王寶強).
When she nips off to get change, the pair steal her cherished album of Fang’s photos and off they go to meet a contact on a bridge. However, they reach their destination only to and find someone else there, a poetry-gushing man who as they approach falls to his death.
The man lands on a car being driven by Ma Bing (also Deng) and his female companion Feifei (Wang Ning, 王寧). When Ma gets out to check the man, he sees an album drop from the bridge above, which is filled with pictures of himself.
From that point on, Li is thrown into a web of coincidence and intrigue involving mistaken and changed identity, hostage-taking and drug-trafficking that bring her closer and closer to the love of her life.
The film’s melancholic palette of blue-green hues sets the tone as the bustling city of Kunming feels as if it’s all traffic, highways and cars full of faceless riders and isolated drivers.
Director Cao does an effective job of sustaining an air of mystery while revealing a chain of events that gradually pieces the puzzle together. Audiences must stay alert while following the characters, who lurch from one mess to another.
Dramatic momentum is maintained throughout the 96-minute-long film. However, the coincidences, and unexpected turns and twists that move the plot forward may strike some as a bit too contrived, which obscures the narrative thread.
On the other hand, what matters most may not be the plot, but the emotions, heightened tension and motivations that make each character three-dimensional. There is Fang Wen, a poor urban youth who breaks the law to survive. The role, played by young actor Wang Baoqiang, represents the heart of rural China where farmers can no longer make a living off the land and are forced to work in the underbellies of the country’s cities.
However, it is Zhou who carries the movie from beginning to end. As the foul-mouthed, lovelorn cabby, she admirably runs the emotional gamut from frantic and frightened to desperate and heartbroken. Though showy acting is sometimes demanded by the script, the actress never loses her poise and delivers a virtuoso performance that cements her repute as one of the best actresses working in China today.
June 1 to June 7 In February 1988, Robert Wu (吳清友) set aside NT$17.5 million to purchase two Henry Moore sculptures from London’s Marlborough Gallery. He never bought the pieces. Feeling slighted that the gallery manager initially looked down on him as a Taiwanese, he decided that night to use the money to open his own art space back home. “Without selling any art, that money could support the gallery for four years. If I feature one artist per month, that provides a stage for at least 100 artists,” Wu said in the book Eslite Time (誠品時光) by Lin Ching-yi (林靜宜).
For more than a century, Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has been connecting the north and south of the nation. Between 1912 and 1926, the rail network was expanded to the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung. Even though the number of people living in Taiwan has grown massively — it has more than tripled since World War II — a combination of population outflow in certain places, and a greater range of transportation options, has led to the closure of several TRA stations. One of the most-visited retired stations is in, and named for, Kaohsiung’s Cishan District (旗山). Until the late
With listicles of local attractions including Costco and numerous children’s playgrounds, I was not expecting much. Opened on Jan. 31, the Taipei MRT’s Circular Line, or Yellow Line, made life in the nation’s capital even more convenient. But judging from Internet search results, it hasn’t opened up many new tourism opportunities, unsurprising as the route mostly crosses densely populated areas and industrial parks. Places like a sports stadium with rainbow colored bleachers perfect for Instagram selfies wouldn’t do it for me either, and it’s pointless to list attractions at the connecting stops that have existed for years. As a history nerd, there
It’s difficult to watch Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, a four-hour Netflix series on the now-deceased convicted sex offender without a choking sense of outrage. How many girls had to suffer to get attention? How perversely twisted is the American justice system that a Gatsby-esque billionaire, friends with such powerful figures as Bill Clinton , Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, a longstanding donor to Harvard and MIT, could buy his way out of an almost certain life sentence for child sex abuse and trafficking? Filthy Rich arrives, of course, less than a year after Epstein, 66, died, officially by suicide, in a New