Exclaim!

Lan Yu

Stanley Kwan

Lan Yu
Country boy Lan Yu (Ye Liu) arrives in Beijing 1988 to study architecture. Short of cash, he tries prostituting himself in a pool hall. There, older, affluent businessman Chen Handong (one of China's top stage actors, Hu Jen) takes Lan home and sexually initiates the young man. Lan wants a serious relationship, while Chen insists on a casual affair: "When two people get to know each other too well, it's time to separate." To compensate, Chen showers Lan with gifts until Lan discovers Chen with another lover. The two don't meet again until the fateful night of June 4, 1989 when Lan escapes the Chinese army's butchering of student protesters in Tiananmen Square. This event alters their relationship. Chen lavishes Lan with a car and a newly built villa. They live together. Still, Chen can't commit to Lan and marries Jingping, a beautiful woman translator. Chen and Lan part. Before long, Chen divorces and runs into Lan at the airport. They resume their relationship, with Chen finally offering Lan a commitment just as Chen faces imprisonment for smuggling and illegal fundraising. Selling the villa and car, Lan raises the money to get Chen out of trouble, and the two of them finally live happy together. Or do they? Adapted by Jimmy Ngai from an anonymous internet novel, Lan Yu is a complex story elegantly told. Lan Yu made waves in 2001 in its native China where homosexuality is frowned upon and films are regularly censored, but received critical acclaim at the Cannes, Sundance and Toronto festivals. Director Kwan avoids melodrama by restraining his camera and use of music, stripping down the film to character and story. The result is a movie of immense clarity and emotion. Plus: Insightful eight-minute Sundance Channel interview with Stanley Kwan. (Mongrel Media)
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