Zhou Yu's Train Movie Review

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Zhou Yu's Train is a movie in motion. By the time it's over, you'll have seen a good deal of rural China, not to mention a corner of Tibet. As Zhou Yu (Gong Li) rides the rails back and forth between her two boyfriends, you'll feel her confusion and her wanderlust, but you'll feel boredom and a little motion sickness, too.

A young and beautiful woman who doesn't know what she wants out of life, Zhou Yu seems to think that as long as she keeps moving, she won't have to make any tough decisions. She uses the time off from her job painting ceramics to travel hundreds of miles twice a week to visit her boyfriend, Chen Qing (Tony Leung Ka Fai), a librarian who writes and recites florid love poetry.

Chen Qing is easy to love. He's unassuming, bookish (he actually lives in a library), and terribly romantic. But every time he pushes Zhou Yu for a commitment or tries to reel her in with yet another romantic poem, she runs for the train station and heads home.

It's on one of her train trips that she meets Zhang Qiang (Honglei Sun), a veterinarian who admires both Zhou Yu and her pottery. An earthy pragmatist, he's the opposite of the cerebral Chen Qing, and even though Zhou Yu tells him she already has a boyfriend, he persists and eventually wins her over... at least until she runs for the train again.

To bottom line it in bar room terms: Zhou Yu is a major-league tease, and she drives both men crazy with her flightiness. Chen Qing gets so frustrated that he eventually puts in for a transfer to Tibet and heads for the hills. Moments later, Zhou Yu realizes that he is the love of her life and that she may never see him again.

Director Zhou Sun plays around with all sorts of cinematic tricks as if he's trying to impress his film school professor. He chops up the story and tells it slightly out of sequence; he introduces a second female character also played by Gong Li for no particular reason and has her serve as an almost reliable narrator; and he includes far too many shots of green trains racing down the tracks and over bridges hoping to symbolize something that is never really made clear.

The goal seems to be to build up a swooningly romantic tale, something you don't see coming out of China too often, but even when Zhou Yu and Chen Qing roll around on the uncomfortable looking bamboo mat he uses for a bed, lots of quick cuts keep everything in the PG-13 arena. Before you know it, Zhou Yu is dashing out the door to catch another train.

See Zhou Yu's Train for the interesting Chinese scenery, or see it to feast your eyes on the always beautiful Gong Li, but don't see it for the drama. You've heard of the romance of the rails? Well, not these rails.

Aka Zhou Yu de huo che.

Come on ride the train and choo-choo ride it.

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Zhou Yu's Train Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG-13, 2002

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