Skip to main content

MR ZHAO

China / Hong Kong, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Regional Features)

Director: Lu Yue

Winner of the Grand Prize at last year's Locarno Film Festival, Mr Zhao relates the romantic entangle­ments of the gentleman of the title. A low-key charmer, Zhao is magnetically attracted to women of all kinds, without any thought for consequences. The film opens with Zhao, a Shanghai doctor, being tailed to a girl­friend's home by his wife. This segues into two extend­ed conversations between mistress and spouse, Zhao placating both with empty assurances.

Far from being a roguish Casanova, Zhao is very lik­able and seems to fall into relationships rather than scheme to seduce. Flashbacks detailing meetings are imbued with touching detail and the blossoming of romance is delightful—viewer find themselves empathising with Zhao, a man eager to help and please rather than cause heartache. Complications arise, scaled alongside Zhao's wife's anger at his infidelity, her impending retrenchment and a startling revelation by his student girlfriend.

Although it maintains an elliptical, scenes-from-a-life structure, with the passage of time left open to audi­ence interpretation, the film broadens out as conflict pro­pels it toward an unexpected conclusion .Considering Lu Yue's varied but always striking portfolio as a director of photography—credits include On the Hunting Ground, Buddha's Lock, Soul of a Painter and Keep Cool—and the fact that much of the dialogue was improvised, Mr Zhao is a model of restraint both from a visual and per­formance point of view.

Structurally bold, this fine film concentrates on portraying contemporary relationships in an authentic but always cinematic way.

See also...

THE PERSONALS

The Personals is a cleverly constructed, ironic comedy of manners that's exceptionally accessible to western audiences without compromising its identity. A sleeper hit at Cannes 1999, the film ... More »

A BEAUTIFUL NEW WORLD

Bao Gun is a simple country boy whose dreams come true. He wins a contest in his small town, the prize being a deluxe apartment in a sumptuous, new Shanghai high-rise. Armed only with a single ... More »

THE QUIET FAMILY

Think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Fawlty Towers; think The Partridge Family meets The Addams Family but don't ever think you're prepared for the Kangs! This totally macabre and crazed Korean ... More »

IKINAI

A group of Japanese hire a tour bus with one intention: communal suicide. Everyone on this fatal trip, including the driver and perky female guide, has financial or per­sonal woes that have led ... More »

SPRING IN MY HOMETOWN

"As soon as we saw the first image of this film, it was perfectly obvious to us that a genuine director was born." This was the enthusiastic appraisal of the head of the Director's Fortnight panel at ... More »

BULLET BALLET

With his fascination for transmogrified bodies, junkyard sci-fi hallucinations, explosive violence and dynamic editing. Shinya Tsukamoto has found a cult audience at festivals worldwide since his ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director