A fairly standard rural Chinese drama, centered on the travails of a young widow, “The Story of Lotus” is notable for the unmelodramatic treatment of potentially melodramatic material, and beautifully crisp lensing in the Wuyi mountains of northern Fujian province. Solid, mid-range fare is good fodder for audience-friendly fests and worth a look by Asiaphiles. It’s several notches above helmer Qi Jian’s previous sports-centered pics, “Female Coach & Male Player” (aka “Team Spirit”) and “Baseball Boys.”
Widowed by a quarry accident, Lotus (Bian Xiaoxiao, limpidly graceful) is left to raise her small baby on the tea-drying farm owned by her unfriendly father-in-law, Sanbao (Li Xinmin, in pic’s strongest perf). Tricked by the oily quarry manager (Lin Peng) out of a decent compensation but befriended by a young, divorced bus driver (Wang Junyi), Lotus is torn between being a single mother or finding a new father for her child. Four-character story is shot through with moralistic underpinnings but is naturally played, especially in scenes where Lotus and Sanbao gradually work out a way to co-exist. Pic’s sole technical blip is Zhang Shaotong’s overwrought music score.