Reviewed by: wyeeso
Summary: A depiction of forever loneliness
Reviewer Score: 8
"Love's Lone Flower" is an adaptation of one of the 14 short stories found in Kenneth Pai's "Taipei People" (1971), and it certainly is more than just a story about lesbian love! In fact, the depiction of the story and the description of characters are richer in the film than in the novel.
The story is depicted in a feminist point of view from 1940s to 1960s, with a club escort, Shen Yun Fang (played by Anita Yuen), being the narrator who tells her story of her past (flashbacks) and present. The story also allows the audiences to explore what's it like for club escorts to experience love, comfort, jealousy, discrimination, helplessness, loneliness, violence, rape, pain, drugs, and so on, during a chaotic period.
One half of the story is about the love and jealousy between Shen Yun Fang and Wu Bao the club singer (played by Angelica Lee) prior to 1949, the year when many Shanghainese fled to the nearby Taiwan as soon as the Chinese Communist Party took over mainland China. Since both attractive, but lonely, club escorts have nothing but themselves to care about, they immediately find comfort in each other and live happily together. However, as soon as a handsome song composer, Lin San Lang (played by Tou Chung-Hua), falls deeply in love with Wu Bao, Yun Fang becomes jealous with the new couple and attempts to drag Wu Bao back to her side. Yet, the audiences learn that Wu Bao rather chooses to be trapped in Shanghai with the lonely and helpless Yun Fang than departing from her for San Lang, freedom and Taiwan. Then later in the story, the audiences also learn that although Yun Fang has been acting selfishly as she wishes to possess Wu Bao's mind and soul, she regrets her previous behaviors and painfully let Wu Bao (her cremains) stay by San Lang's side.
Another half of the story is set in 1958 and the years later, with Yun Fang working at a Japanese-themed winehouse in Taiwan. At there, her meetings with Juan Juan the club singer (played by Suzanne Siu) always remind her of the time she spent with Wu Bao. And gradually, Juan Juan has replaced Wu Bao in the view of Yun Fang, who attempts to act protective to Juan Juan like she was to Wu Bao, due to their similar background and personality. Nevertheless, unlike Wu Bao who has at least lived a fortunate life with the ones she loved, Juan Juan's life is full of violence, pain and drugs as soon as she meets Ko Lao Hung (played by Jack Kao), a vicious mobster who kills, rapes, and sells drugs. And to end her pain and misery, Juan Juan finally kills Ko Lao Hung under insanity, and departs from Yun Fung, who's so helpless she can't stop the tragedy from happening.
The ending is certainly a tragic one. In 1962, misfortune, helplessness and loneliness are still accompanying Yun Fung, who has lost her loved ones and wishes to be forgotten, forever.
Anita Yuen, Angelica Lee and Tou Chung-Hua are top actors who have won awards for their magnificent acting for other films, and they have done a wonderful job to strengthen their tragic roles in this film.
For Anita Yuen, who has already won several awards since her acting career began in 1991, she has especially done a great job in delivering a sense of jealousy through her eyes and emotion for her character. However, it's not easy to tell she looks/feels helpless and lonely given that Anita looks/feels like a strong person from inside and out. I guess she's more successful in being a protective character.
For Tou Chung-Hua, his role is meant to love a person who can't love him back, and the parts where he's angry and cries for his loss of love, it convinces the audience to feel for his character.
As for Angelica Lee and Suzanne Siu, they're excellent in acting as a pure club singer who's always under protection. I'll give a special compliment to Suzanne's acting for looking so soulless and emotionless while her character is raped and tortured by Ko Lao Hung.
Speaking of Ko Lao Hung, I find Jack Ko's character interesting. I mean he looks vicious and violent, but it feels like he's a lonely guy who needs be with someone. An example is there's a part where some thugs were after him at the winehouse, and he could have fled away by himself given that it's easier to not get caught, but instead, he dragged Juan Juan along with him in a way that looks kinda romantic.
[The Production Crew:]
Directing for his first time, Cho Shui-Yuen and the script writers have together produced a cruel and hopeless story for the audiences to watch and enjoy. On one hand, they allow the characters to live happily for some short moments, but on the other hand, they quickly drive the characters to their misery. Furthermore, the audiences who have watched the film and have read the short story from "Taipei People" will find this film hopeless since the director promises to give some hopes to the characters and audiences, while the author tends to give no hopes to his characters and readers to begin with. But that's a good thing, because Cho and the script writers are giving more depth to the story, making it richer to tell.
The crew in general have also done a terrific job in using the melodramatic music in the background, as well as manipulating the costumes and different dialects (Shanghainese, Taiwanese, and Japanese) in the film according to Taiwan's early history.
Surely I'll give credit to the unexpected kissing scene between Shen Yun Fang and Wu Bao. It seems pretty hardcore!
[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
Definitely recommended watching it at least once or twice. It's nice to know what ladies, especially club escorts, think and experience during that certain era.