Mainland Chinese-born thesp Faye Yu, known overseas for two Wayne Wang pics (“The Joy Luck Club,” “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers”), makes a more than creditable helming debut with “Eternal Beloved.” “Romeo and Juliet”-like fable set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has a pristine look and delicate tone in sync with its main protags, a couple who promised to reunite in the afterlife. September release performed mildly in China, but there’s something here for patient fest auds in the West.
Newlyweds Mo Xiaoyu (played by Yu herself) and her teacher husband, Qin Yan (Tu Songyan), move into an idyllic country house where there once stood a monastery, burned down 50 years ago during internecine struggles. One night, Xiaoyu is visited by a lovelorn ghost, Ming (Duan Yihong), who tells her time is running out for him to be united with his beloved Jiu (also Yu) — cueing flashbacks about the family rivalry that drove them apart. Yu brings a stillness and composure to her twin characters that’s beautifully matched by Hong Kong d.p. Lai Yiu-fai’s lensing of hilly Yunnan locations and Zhou Tian’s warm, restrained score.