Spring Fever (2009)

YE LOU

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

Original title:  Chun Feng Chen Zui De Ye Wan

China/Hong Kong/France2009.  Dream Factory, Rosem Films.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , , Jian Zeng.  Cannes Film Festival 2009Toronto International Film Festival 1999.  

Sexual fever is what permeates every frame of this steamy film from its very opening scenes, featuring two men, Ping and Cheng, escaping to a cabin in the woods to be alone together and not knowing that Ping’s wife has had them followed by a private detective. The wife’s reaction to the news is a catastrophe, sending her husband into depression and his relationship with Cheng spiraling downward into disintegration. Meanwhile, Cheng is increasingly drawn to the private detective who had followed them, who is himself growing weary of his relationship with his girlfriend. It sounds like mega soap-operatics but it plays out in the most emotionally affecting, natural form. Director Le You has been banned from making films in his native China thanks to his previous feature Summer Palace, but has flouted authorities and, with an unobtrusive digital camera, made this film on the sly. Every bit of it is shocking, but it is hardly the steamy love scenes that make it so; the low-budget, no-frills production comes off fully accomplished (especially the pristine performances) and the dark and grainy photography of a Nanjing constantly being soaked by rain is mesmerizingly beautiful. A deeply affecting film that hits the soul.

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