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EVERLASTING REGRET (CHANGHEN GE) (director: Stanley Kwan; screenwriters: Elmond Yeung/novel by Anyi Wang; cinematographer: Lian Huang; editor: William Chang; cast: Tony Leung (Mr. Cheng), Sammi Cheng (Wang Qiyao), Jun Hu (Officer Li), Daniel Wu (Kang Mingxun), Jue Huang (Kela), Su Yan (Lili); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jun Fang/Willie Chan/Baoping Chen/Pengle Xu; (Panorama) Ice Entertainment; 2005-Hong Kong-in Mandarin with English subtitles)
“Melancholy episodic romance story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Hong Kong film-maker Stanley Kwan(“Love Unto Waste”/”Hold You Tight”/”Lan Yu”) in a craftsman’s way directs this melancholy episodic romance story, covering the years from the Shanghai glory days of the 1930s to the 1980s, of its hard-luck heroine, Qiyao (Sammi Cheng). It’s set in the always changing Shanghai. Writer Elmond Yeung bases the screenplay on the 1996 novel by Anyi Wang.

The pretty student in 1947, Qiyao, from a common family, is a runner-up for Miss Shanghai and becomes the mistress of the KMT officer Li (Jun Hu). This allows her to rise to be a pop star. After pledging to love her forever, Li abandons her. The same thing happens with her next two serious relationships. The spineless socialite businessman Ming (Daniel Wu) and the young black market trader opportunist hoping to secure a passport out of the country, Kela (Jue Huang), will leave her after using her.

The photographer Cheng (Tony Leung) who discovered Qiyao and knew her this entire period, unfortunately never told her of his love for her. Through the years he stands in as her closest friend and mentor. What he can’t do is save her from heartbreak and himself from feeling unfulfilled.

The tepid screenplay veers between a history lesson of a country in transition (covering the Cultural Revolution, The Great Leap Forward and the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China) and a weepie women’s pic melodrama, one that never fully realizes its aims to fully tell how society was stifled by the changing fortunes of the country and how the population was trapped by all the misplaced social changes. But it works as a delicately shot art film, even if its drama is not particularly moving.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”