Zhou Yu’s Train

Like some of Joan Crawford’s and Bette Davis’s studio vehicles, this soapy romance exists only for what Gong Li can bring to it: a certain amount of soul and nuance. What it brings to her, by contrast, is dubious. She plays a ceramic painter who travels by train every weekend to visit her retiring poet boyfriend (Tony Leung Ka Fai) and on one trip meets a veterinarian who tries to woo her. Writer-director Sun Zhou costarred with Gong in The Emperor and the Assassin and directed her in Breaking the Silence; his achronological narrative is daring, but his execution is too reminiscent of arty TV commercials, and casting Gong in a smaller second role only confuses matters. In Mandarin with subtitles. 106 min. (JR)

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