Chinese Box | Chicago Reader

Chinese Box

There's no doubt about the cool cynicism of journalist Jeremy Irons when he autographs a copy of his book for a fawning party girl, revising the title to suggest it's about losing money in Hong Kong instead of making it. Hopelessly in love with Gong Li, whose ambivalence spurs him to conceal a crucial discovery about his health, Irons runs around the city to the sound of his own preachy, repetitive voice-overs during the six months preceding the 1997 British handover. He obsessively videotapes a mysteriously scarred young woman played by Maggie Cheung, whose real role in the movie is to consolidate its arty anthropological observations into one convenient icon. Empty stylized filming and editing techniques are intended to make the abuse of the conventions of melodrama seem revelatory; that the characters aren't meant to be anything but symbols is supposed to be reason enough to ignore how poorly they fulfill even this function. Written by Jean-Claude Carriere and Larry Gross; directed by Wayne Wang (1998).

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