You are currently displaying English
長恨歌 (2005)
Everlasting Regret

Reviewed by: cpardo
Date: 05/03/2006
Summary: Sammi's "Center Stage"

Wong Qi yao is a young plain lady raised in Shanghai, plucked from obscurity to become a beauty contest winner. We follow her along her relationships with her friends Lili and artist Cheng. We also see her deal with her love life, and her tribulations with the wrong kind of men, who keep leaving. As time passes, and after bringing up a daughter, she looks back, seeing if there were any regrets in life. Again though she gets mixed up with the wrong man, and this time may be the last...

Personally I was amazed at the transformation Sammi went through for this Stanley Kwan film. It was stunning to see her made up in old-time attire, and being plain looking--a far cry from all the stage make-up and hair color in her past films and concerts. It's a challenging role, and I think she was able to pull it off. The film itself is photographed very well, and I was impressed with the set design, and the acting of the others--especially Leung Kar-fei, who's still good after all these years. The oldies soundtrack is also very catchy and nostalgic. It's a sad and tragic film, but the style AND the substance of the film is so rewarding, I'd watch it again. I hope Sammi gets more roles like this now.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/05/2006

Stanley Kwan's latest movie attempts to create the same type of nostalgic mood that worked so well in Rouge and Centre Stage. While this film is as beautiful to look at as those other two masterpieces, it suffers from the absence of Anita Mui or Maggie Cheung - Sammi Cheng tries mighty hard, and she does look lovely in doing so, but she doesn't carry the film to the degree those other two actresses did, and the resulting void in screen charisma makes the deficiencies of the rather anemic plot all the more glaring.

Everlasting Regret is based on a popular novel about the life of a Shanghainese women beginning in the postwar Nationalist days through Liberation, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, all the way to the gradual opening of the country after Mao's death. However, little of these events makes it directly onto the screen. Costume changes, set design and various props and audio cues reference the historical events happening, but the film itself focuses on the (rather mundane) emotional lives of a few characters, resulting in a slow-paced chamberpiece that lacks any real energy or conflict or compelling narrative.

Watching the film is like watching a Chinese version of a Merchant/Ivory film - it's all really beautifully filmed in a shallow nostalgic kind of way, but it doesn't amount to much. I blame Sammi for that -- she just doesn't have the screen presence that could make this material work, and in the end, I cared very little about what happened to her (or any other character).

Still, the film is visually compelling at times, with beautifully framed shots. For that alone, I'd give it a marginal recommendation.