“Lan Yu” earns points for addressing a subject that is considered taboo in Chinese culture, enough to get the film banned in its native land. Of course, I don’t think it’s especially hard to get banned in China, but as a matter of principle, this is a good thing.
The subject is homosexuality, addressed with alarming frankness in this film, about a 30-ish man who begins a sex-only relationship with a younger man who, alas, would like something more than that. Unfortunately, while the film is frank, it is also dull.
Set in Beijing just before Tiananman Square, the film introduces us to Chen Handong (Hu Jun), a businessman who believes once two people get to know each other very well, that is the time to separate. He meets newbie hustler Lan Yu (Liu Ye), a simple boy from the country, who falls harder for Handong than Handong does for him.
Their relationship is well-acted by the leads, but Jimmy Ngai’s screenplay is so sparse as to be slow-witted. The characters’ emotions, while apparent, are not given a story in which to drive themselves home.
C (1 hr., 26 min.; )