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A Beautiful Life (2011)

A beautiful life

A beautiful lifeDirector: Andrew Lau Wai Keung

 Written by: Theresa Tang Kit Ming

Cast By: Liu Ye, Shu Qi, Tian Liang, Feng Dang-Ying

Andrew Lau has never been a director known for subtle directions, but in A Beautiful Life he has certainly proved to the pundits he is more than capable of delivering a romantic story. Despite the occasional overacting and exaggerated scenes that is so typical in Andrew Lau’s work, A Beautiful Lifewould certainly shed some tears from the audience for its subtle and realistic storyteling.

There is certainly chemistry going on between the two main stars Liu Ye and Shu Qi that makes the movie even more touching. The movie also features an old song by Taiwanese singer Bobby Chen and the interluding song Silent Guitar sung by Jackie Cheung, which was adapted from Danny Summer’s 1988 cantonese song (which Danny Summer himself adapted from the Malay Band Search , the original song was called Fanatasia Bulan Madu) which truthfully sings aloud the internal struggles of the protagonist.

Theme Song of a Beautiful Life sung by Jackie Cheung

Plot Summary

Fang Zhen Dong (Liu Ye) is a patrolling officer in Beijing who one night meets the drunk Li Pei Ru (Shu Qi) while singing karaoke at the KTV place. Li Pei Ru is a real estate agent from Hong Kong who has vowed to make her fortune in the cosmoplitan Beijing, but is caught up in the complexities of life and ends up becoming a mistress of a married man.

 

Opening scenes of a Beautiful Life

Opening scenes of a Beautiful Life

Both Fang Zhen Dong and Li Pei Ru’s lives start to intermingle together, as it becomes clear that Zhen Dong also has his burden to carry, with a failed marriage that took away all his fortune and an intrinsic younger brother (Tian Liang) with communication barriers, nevertheless Zhen Dong still uses all his efforts and love to make everyone around him happy, including Pei Ru herself.

Pei Ru’s life eventually falls apart upon knowing that his lover not only has another woman (apart from his wife), but has also deceived her of her fortune. The heartbroken Pei Ru pleads for help from Zhen Dong, who sells his house in order for her to start a new business, but she’s mismanaged venture results in a business failure, Pei Ru goes back to Hong Kong without notice, leaving Zhen Dong in grief.

However, after going back to Hong Kong, Pei Ru discovers that his heart has always been with Zhen Dong, and decides to return to Beijing. What she sees however is that Zhen Dong has disappeared, and has contracted Alzheimer’s disease. Will Pei Ru overcome all his obstacles with Zhen Dong and reunite with him?

 

 

Shu Qi In A Beautiful Life

Shu Qi In A Beautiful Life

Shu Qi in A Beautiful Life

This year we have seen a number of romantic films from China, notwithstanding Don’t go Breaking My Heart, Johnnie To’s version of a romantic film that offers a more fantasized landscape geared towards commercial success. A Beautiful Life is however a simple story that proves to be deep in emotions, and exceptionally 2 hours epic long for a romantic theme. At times it seems that the story would just go on forever and there are places where it turns a bit boring to watch. There are erroneous Scenes such as where all the police comes out to salute to Fang Zhen Dong during his departure seems like a cheap adaption from Infernal Affairs, which proves to be both unnecessary and distracting to an otherwise realistic movie.

 

 

Liu Ye And Shu Qi

Liu Ye And Shu Qi

 

But what makes up for it is the emotional part, the brotherly love between Fang Zheng Dong and Zheng Cong, and Zheng Cong’s love towards Xiaowan, and most of all, the love between Zheng Dong and Pei Ru, which comes to a climax at the second half of the film. The subtleties shown in the film are also touching, such as Zhen Dong’s effort to wrap up Pei Ru’s doll in waiting for her return.

A Beautiful Life is also one of those films that does not over fantasize its settings. We see the typical Beijing landscape and the old Hutongs of Beijing. Although the latter half of the movie where the setting changes to Mentougou seems more like a pretentious attempt to sell a tourist attraction, but still it successful adds a local character in the film, which is an element lacking in most romantic comedies from China these days.

Shu Qi’s portrayal as a Hong Kong girl in Beijing is indeed a hardsell, but her efforts in developing a career in China is gaining traction. The most compellingly emotional scenes have come from Shu Qi’s superb acting, such as the minute long rant that interchanges between mandarin and cantonese while she was drunk was both a convincing display of her emotions.

 

 

Tian Liang And Zhen Chong

Tian Liang And Zhen Chong

 

A Beautiful Life does have its uncomfortable spots though, not to offer an over-interpretation of the movie but Andrew Lau does seem to be making a point in his characterization of the relationships between Hong Kong and Beijing. I mean seriously, 10 years ago the plot would’ve been unthinkable, or it could’ve been a Beijing girl meeting a Hong Kong policeman. However, interchanging realities show that times have changed, with Beijing seen as the new land of opportunity and Hong Kong is the place of mortgage traps and materialistic girls that are full of greed and unable to commit. Even Pei Ru, the originally materialistic Hong Kong girl needs to find a savior in Beijing. We could probably find some of Andrew Lau’s subtle thoughts in this matter in A Beautiful Life.

With this said, A Beautiful Life is certainly a romantic film that you won’t miss if you are looking for something to stir up your emotional world.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (34 votes cast)
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A Beautiful Life (2011), 9.0 out of 10 based on 34 ratings

15 Comments

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  1. September 9, 2011, 9:11 pm

    I would like to be able to watch this film.
    Can anyone advise me on how to get the DVD film.

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    • Mel says
      January 4, 2012, 6:15 am

      Well right now, it’s on Netflix. Beautiful movie.

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    • dee says
      January 12, 2012, 7:36 am

      it’s on netflix right now… go watch it :)

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    • Lo To says
      February 18, 2012, 3:52 am

      u can go on yesasia.com and buy this movie… or overstock.com

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  2. yulia says
    September 24, 2011, 10:30 am

    CAN I ASK WHAT IS THE SUBTITLE OF A MEI SONG WHICH LIU YE SING IT IN THE FILM ?
    THANKS BEFORE

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    • xiezhiwei says
      October 20, 2011, 1:26 am

      无声的吉他

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  3. Jennifer says
    December 30, 2011, 7:40 pm

    @Barry
    Netflix has this movie on instant showing. It was absolutely beautiful. You should watch it.

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  4. teng says
    January 12, 2012, 3:20 am

    you can watch it on netflix

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  5. dee says
    January 12, 2012, 7:35 am

    so uhm, what happened at the ending? did the guy eventually lose all his memories or got cure because of what happened? thanks!!

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    • jane says
      January 21, 2012, 7:22 pm

      I really do suggest that you watch it. I like this review but if you are looking for a plot by plot summary, this article isn’t it. I don’t want to spoil the film for you or anyone, so I’ll just say that the film ends on a hopeful note. He got dementia on the job (before the movie starts) and he is slowly losing his memory. While he does not get treatment, he and the people around him are working hard to make the best of it. So he does not lose all his memories or get magically cured, to answer your question.

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  6. Tonniebrown says
    January 29, 2012, 10:44 pm

    This is one Beautiful movie. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

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  7. Johnny says
    February 24, 2012, 1:39 am

    Can anyone tell me the name of that song Liu Ye was playing on a guitar. I think he played it twice in this movie. Greatly Appreciate it if anyone can help me.

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  8. Rene says
    March 7, 2012, 5:17 am

    I just saw the movie. It was AWESOME!!!!!!!!! It’s very interesting how he goes from the one taking care of everyone to everyone taking care of him. The movie is worth every minute of watching. I wish they made movies like this in the USA. This movie has SUBSTANCE. I like how his police team saluted him off as he was forced to leave his job. That was great. The movie couldn’t be any better. I really liked how he didn’t take advantage of her while she was drunk and I liked how the movie didn’t get into any cheezy make out scenes. The movie was GREAT!!!!

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  9. Rafshanjani says
    April 2, 2012, 9:51 am

    The best romantic movie i’ve ever seen.. Every time i remember this movie, always make me sad and suddenly my tears is fall from my eyes..

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  10. Jason Lee says
    April 16, 2012, 10:35 pm

    Ok so im a guy and i absolutely love “chick flicks” and this movie left me speechless for about 2 hours after watching! Just thinking about this masterpiece of a movie had tears rolling down my face hours after.. I would recommend this movie to anyone that asked me what is one of the best movies i have ever seen and even a day after I’m still thinking about how this movie has given me hope for a brighter tomorrow and hope for a love that is out there waiting for me to discover.

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