An Unusual Love

Produced by Han Sanping. Executive producers, Lu Yao, He Ping.

Produced by Han Sanping. Executive producers, Lu Yao, He Ping.

Directed by Wu Tianming. Screenplay, Cheng Tong. Camera (color), Zhao Lei; editor, Zeng Shiwei; music, Zhang Qianyi; art director, Wei Ning. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (World Cinema), Aug. 28, 1999. Original Mandarin title: Feichang aiqing. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Yuan Li, Liu Yunlong, Zhu Daoxian, Han Fuyi, Gong Peixin, Tian Chengren , Jiang Yaofen, Mei Lin, Wang Yonggui, Song Banggui, Li Huai, Zhao Yi.

Former Fifth Generation figurehead Wu Tianming, who made such a striking comeback three years ago with “The King of Masks,” takes a more routine, commercial route with “An Unusual Love,” a meller based on the real-life story of a young doctor whose patient nursing rescues her brain-injured husband from the vegetable patch. Though Wu turns in a superior example of the genre, result is strictly local in interest.

Single-handedly carrying the movie on her petite shoulders, actress Yuan Li, who has a presence reminiscent of well-known thesp Pan Hong earlier in her career, plays Shu Xin, who meets cute with fellow high-schooler Tian Li (Liu Yunlong) in the mid-’70s. Eight years later, they marry, but after an accident during a scientific expedition, Tian falls into a coma. Despite advice from relatives and friends, Shu mothballs her life (and sexual needs) to care for him , convinced love will win out. Pic topples into melodrama that most Western auds will find hard to take seriously, but Yuan’s calibrated perf and Wu’s above-average helming (often using direct sound) give it a simple dignity at times. Technically, it’s smooth.

An Unusual Love

(ROMANTIC DRAMA --- CHINESE)

Production: A Beijing Film Studio release (in China) of a Beijing Xinyingjia/Beijing Film Studio production. (International sales: Beijing Film Studio, Beijing.)

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