Love for Life
Love for Life, the new tragic romance by cinematographer-turned director Gu Changwei (Peacock, And the Spring Comes), marks a significant moment in Chinese cinema with its direct reference to the taboo subject of AIDS-infecting blood merchants. Whether the movie has told a story of any historical significance, however, is an altogether different matter. Set in an HIV-stricken rural village in the early 1990s, it tells the tale of AIDS patient Zhao Deyi (Aaron Kwok), whose elder brother’s blood selling business has brought the deadly “fever” to much of the population. Having left his wife behind to live in an abandoned schoolyard with his father and several other infected peasants, Deyi’s attention is totally turned one day as a beautiful HIV patient, Shang Qinqin (Zhang Ziyi) is dragged into the commune by her husband.
What follows is a fairly dreary love story that sees Deyi and Qinqin turn their backs on their estranged spouses and a society alternately looking on with indifference or contempt. The two engage in compulsive lovemaking sessions wherever they go, before resolving to get married amid their slow waltz towards death. The hopeless and claustrophobic nature of their twisted relationship may even distantly remind some viewers of the anarchic ambience of In the Realm of the Senses, and the uncharacteristically disturbing ending here surely doesn’t help matters. Despite its artful presentation, you do wonder if Love for Life has made any contribution – at all – to lifting the stigma of its central premise.
Dir Gu Changwei Category IIB, 100 mins, opens on June 16