MYSTERY (Lou Ye, 2012)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Wednesday, July 3, 5:45, and Thursday, July 11, 1:00
Controversial Sixth Generation director Lou Ye, who scored an international hit with 2000’s Suzhou River but whose work is regularly banned by Chinese authorities, officially returns to his homeland with Mystery, a complex tale that weaves together two main stories in the centrally located city of Wuhan. The dark film opens with a young woman, Xiaomin (Chang Fangyuan), getting mowed down by a car racing down the highway on a rainy night. Meanwhile, the married Sang Qi (Qi Xi) tells her new friend, single mother Lu Jie (Hao Lei), that she thinks her husband, Yongzhao (Qin Hao), is having an affair, but both women soon have more surprises in store for them as an intricate web of infidelity, betrayal, obsession, lies, class, cover-ups, and payoffs slowly reveals itself. Written by Lou (Purple Butterfly, Summer Palace) with Mei Feng and Yu Fan, Mystery, a selection of the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and Best Picture, Best Screenwriter, and Best Newcomer (Qi Xi) winner at the Asian Film Awards, is a moody, often uneasy work that tries too hard to confuse the viewer yet still manages to be compelling as things eventually come into focus. Inspired by three stories Mei found on the internet about changing social structures on the mainland, the film ends with unexpected violence that Lou was forced to edit for the Chinese release, leading him to remove his name from that version. Mystery is having its North American premiere July 3 & 11 at the Walter Reade Theater as part of the New York Asian Film Festival, which continues through July 15 with works from China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines, and other countries, including Jang Cheol-Soo’s Secretly Greatly, Hideo Nakata’s The Complex, Jeong Byeong-Gil’s Confession of Murder, Johnnie To’s Drug War, Takashi Miike’s Lesson of the Evil, and a retrospective of Taiwanese director Tsai Yang-Ming.