2013, China/Hong Kong, 123 minutes
Finding Mr. Right, a big hit in China will be opening today in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. (Check local listings.) The film is one of China’s highest grossing films. It attracted a large audience there both because of interest in the story’s main backdrop of Seattle and because of the film's rather controversial subject matter.
Wen Jiajia (Actress Tang Wei, Lust Caution) arrives in Seattle on a flight from Beijing and waits curbside in the cold until her ride, Frank Hao (Xiubo Wu) finally arrives thirty minutes late. She's rich, selfish, self-centered, a real prima donna. She thinks she can get whatever she wants because she has access to apparently unlimited wealth, and usually she succeeds. Jiajia is also pregnant.
Formerly an editor for a gourmet food magazine, she has come to the U.S. because her wealthy lover is married and won't seek a divorce. She therefore would not be able to obtain legal permission to give birth in China because of that country's highly restrictive one-child policy.
|Wen Jiajia (Tang Wei, left) and Frank Hao (Xiubo Wu)|
Frank, who had been a doctor in China, now works as a chauffeur for illegal "birthing houses." For various reasons, Chinese women live in rooms in these houses until they give birth. The landladies of these homes provide room and board as well as transportation to medical appointments, etc.
Jiajia ends up having to stay in a house owned by Mrs. Huang, a Taiwanese landlady. Jiajia immediately buys her way into the largest room in the house. But her high-handed ways are of no avail when her wealthy businessman lover can't come to visit as he'd promise, when she can't reach him by phone, and especially not when her credit card stops being accepted.
As her life takes various twists and turns, it becomes rather problematic as to just who is her "Mr. Right" and whether or not she'll realize it, let alone be able to act upon it.
Actress Wei Tang was blacklisted by the Chinese government because of her participation in Ang Lee's Lust Caution (2007), a film whose subject matter the authorities objected to. This cost her dearly, both in terms of roles and endorsements. She did not appear again in a film until 2010's Crossing Hennessy. The following year she had a lead role in Dragon (a.k.a. Wu xia), which starred Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro. She's outstanding in her role in Finding Mr. Right, exhibiting a wide range as Jiajia undergoes significant transformation from an arrogant person of privilege to one of abject poverty.
For his part, 45 year old Xiubo Wuis quite convincing as a man who's been humbled by the course his life has taken, but who hasn't given up on regaining his dignity and his desire to provide both emotionally and financially for his young daughter.
I would describe Finding Mr. Right as primarily a drama, but one with strong rom-com elements. It's well-paced and well-acted. It hits both the serious and dramatic notes with a sure hand. All in all, a most enjoyable watch.