I watched Simon Chung’s End of Love this morning. He wrote and directed this Cantonese-language movie that was featured at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008. Variety trashed the movie, calling it “uninspired. I was going to eject the movie after the first few frames but something about the main character’s demeanor arrested my action. I ended up watching the whole movie. It was depressing. The plot didn’t make sense. The end brought no closure, as if the threads were left just hanging there.
I watched the included interview with the actors and that improved my impression of the movie considerably. This certainly is not your typical Hollywood or European movie and this is its drawing card. The actors talked about they prepared for their roles. Both of the principal actors played gay roles but were straight. The movie was about drug addiction and prostitution. It touched on three controversial themes. But it was not the themes that appealed to me, especially after viewing the actor interviews. What interested me was the Chinese actors’ take on these themes as they related to them personally. Their comments seemed to reflect to me contemporary young Chinese attitudes about these issues as well as movies.
If China has become an economic giant, the media it creates will soon also cast a giant shadow on the global imagination. The attempts of the director (whose interview was apparently lopped off) and actors are sophomoric by American and European standards but their earnestness is impressive. While they may still look up to Hollywood for models I can see them striking out in their own direction as confidence in the Chinese as a whole grows with their economic power. This at least is what I’d like to see. Coming from a comparatively insignificant Asian country, I fantasize it hanging on to the coattails of China as China flies against Western hegemony. If Indian spirituality influenced Western culture in the 60s and 70s, maybe China will increasingly influence the West from hereon.