Mainland China’s first AIDS-related pic, “Love for Life” is an anemic mess, notwithstanding stars Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok (neither inspired) and rising helmer Gu Changwei. It’s possible the original 2 1/2-hour conception was more coherent, but the current version feels chopped up and assembled by multiple editors with limited communication skills. Set in a remote northern Chinese village, the pic functions as neither AIDS tale nor love story, and with a dead 12-year-old boy narrating and several risible sex scenes, the target audience is unclear. Even most fests will steer clear.
Narrator Xin (Guo Zetao) died from AIDS, like many infected when his unscrupulous father (Pu Cunxi) sold the town tainted blood. Even the asymptomatic isolate themselves in a school, including uncle Deyi (Kwok). Forlorn Qinqin (Zhang) arrives kicked out by husband Xiao Hai (Cai Guoqing), and she and Deyi fall in love. Villagers succumb as if AIDS is the bubonic plague, and the script, far from demystifying the disease, is tonally all over the place. Zhang’s red clothes set her apart but, like the attractive visuals from lensers Yang Tao and Christopher Doyle, aren’t meaningfully integrated into the story.