“Love and Bruises,” which screens today in the Venice Days selection, was shot in Paris, centering on a Chinese girl student’s obsession with a macho French construction worker.
“Love,” sold by Wild Bunch, is Lou’s first film set in Europe. It adapts Jie Liu-falin’s autobiographical novel “Bitch,” describing love and sex from a woman’s POV.
The Chinese helmer was slapped with the ban by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television for submitting Cannes 2006’s “Summer Palace” — a movie with plentiful nudity, set against 1989 Tiananmen Square protests — without approval from government censors.
“Love and Bruises” still pushes the envelope with its treatment of love and sex.
At university in Paris, Hua, the Chinese girl, attends classes on women’s emancipation, then allows Mathieu — a self-acclaimed real man in bed — to call all the moves in the sack, submitting to his total dominance.
Mathieu, “doesn’t need any emancipation. He’s even closer to free and natural humanity,” Lou told Variety.
“Hua’s not more progressive than Mathieu. In a relationship, there’s no borderline between the progressive and the laggard,” he added.
Shot with shaky hand-held camerawork and nervy cuts, “Bruises” gives a sense of having been lensed on the fly. The viewer senses that the characters hold several secrets from each other.
“In a love relationship, many facts are hidden, or you want to speak them but can’t express yourself properly, thus it becomes a secret forever,” Lou Ye says.
Love is an excellent symbol for political and social issues, Lou maintains. At one point in “Bruises,” Hua returns to Beijing and a former boyfriend, but then goes back to Paris.
“I can understand Hua’s feeling of being ‘in between,'” Lou said. “Between different cultures, people, politics and culture, between different races and territories, sex and love, violence and tenderness, love and bruises, a true human feeling, but lonely as well.”
“Bruises” won’t screen in China: “For now, as far as I know, it’s impossible,” Lou said.
But he’s ready to start again in his home country. “I’ve submitted my first project after the ban to the censorship bureau. We’re waiting for its approval. It has been a month and we’re still waiting.”