Zhou Yu's Train is certainly one of those films that some may not like the first time around. If you read up on it on some websites, they'll even tell you that you might miss a few things. I believe in this also but this movie for me gradually turned into one of my favorite movies.
The story is set in China and based on Zhou Yu who is played by the beautiful Gong Li and her travels to and from her boyfriends home. Of course, she travels by train and this allows everything from her conversations to her thinking to herself to be slowed down. This is where the film reminds me a little of a Wong Kar Wai film. The dialogue is very good but still not Kar Wai good. Zhou Yu's boyfriend Chen Ching is a poet who writes for himself but finds the courage to write a poem for Zhou Yu and give it to her.
The very first poem he writes for her is the one that makes her fall in love with him. Zhou Yu is an artist herself and maybe more artistic than Chen Ching, she makes beautiful vases. She runs into a man named Chen Qing during her travels on the train. Chen notices a vase she is carrying with her but he really just likes Zhou Yu. Although Chen and Zhou Yu have noting in the beginning, they entertain each other with good conversations during their travels. They start to gradually develop a close relationship. The story then starts to deal with Zhou Yu having trouble because she has two men that love her but she loves one more than the other.
I had a hard time watching this movie the first time. It was interesting, wasn't really boring but it gives you the feeling that you have to be in a certain mood to enjoy it. The continuous talking leads to good but light conflict between Zhou Yu and other characters but there is a surrounding mystery that gives it a bit of depth. Gong Li also plays another character who is that mystery but it comes to make sense by the end of the film. The acting was exceptional; I loved the playfulness of Zhou Yu's conversations with Qing and the seriousness of her conversations with Chen Ching.
I came to ask myself if she was really in love with Ching, or if she was just in love with his poetry. I loved the camera views, picture quality, and definitely the settings. Having two of the characters on a train makes them have talk to each other but it also shows that they come to need to be on the train with each other. It actually makes a surprisingly sort of serene setting. The writing was great and does not let you down at all. If anything, I would warn a future viewer to give this movie more than one chance. If you can't make it through the first time, watch it again and I recommend watching it on a nice night. To me it is just a 5 star movie, it had perfect acting, a great story, and an ending I did not quite favor but it was still acceptable.
ZHOU YU'S TRAIN is another beautiful film from China, refreshingly romantic and intimate film giving us a break from the constant onslaught of the Chinese martial arts films that have so deeply influenced the movie market around the world. As directed by Zhou Sun this low-key tale concerns changes in the lives of three rather simple citizens of Northern China. The simplicity is gratifyingly successful. Zhou Yu (played with exquisite subtlety by the magnificent Gong Li) is … more
Every so often, the convoluted love storyZhou Yu's Trainseems to stop in its tracks and succumb to rapture, gazing on the disarmingly beautiful face of actress Gong Li. A young painter named Zhou Yu (Gong Li,Raise the Red Lantern,Shanghai Triad) falls headlong in love with a painfully shy poet, Chen Ching (Tony Leung Ka-Fai,The Lover). Twice a week she takes the train to his town to be with him, even though he's bewildered by her near-obsessive passion. On the train, a wise-cracking veterinarian (Sun Honglei) pursues Zhou Yu, but she resists his emotional directness.Zhou Yu's Trainbounces back and forth, not only between these two romances but also in time, to confusing effect. But there's something compelling about Zhou Yu's need to love the version of her lover that she holds in her mind, and that sustains the movie through its muddled moments.--Bret Fetzer