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on 23 May 2016
I give the film 4 stars but would give 5 stars for Gong Li's performance. This film does not have a really amazing story line like some of her films but is interesting as it has some Chinese poetry in it and makes reference to a famous Chinese poet so there is a small but interesting history/culture element to the film.
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on 7 May 2015
I was put off buying this from reading a negative Amazon review. Thankfully I took a risk and did not live to regret it!!! Breath taking performances and a film that does not leave you. Excellent service, excellent value. Many many thanks!!!!!!
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on 13 November 2006
This is a beautiful lyrical film about experiencing love and being tempted ... essentially torn between two very different kinds of lovers. One lover is Chen Ching, a librarian and poet, who is highly romantic and the other is Dr. Zhang, a veterinarian, who is more down to earth, a realist. Zhou Yu [Gong Li] is in love with the poet whom she visits by train twice a week. She loves to ride the train to the city of Chongyang where she takes a tram ride over the river, and walks up a series of steps to his home. However, she is partially living in a dream world, and does not think much about the future. Her dreams are shattered into reality when she learns Chen Ching's job is being eliminated. He is offered a teaching job in a remote province of Tibet which he accepts. It is around that time Zhou Yu meets Dr. Zhang on the train who is fascinated by a large porcelain vase she carries. To him, it looks like an antique vase from the Qing Dynasty. He flirts with her - trying to discover more about why she is on the train so often ...

During one of Zhou Yu's trips to see Chen Ching, she nearly faints on the train. The episode occurs after an unsuccessful poetry reading she sets up to promote the publication of Chen Ching's poems. She had sold her own hand-painted porcelain vases as well as family heirlooms to finance the publication of his writing. Dr. Zhang was asked to help a passenger on the train but he declined, using the excuse he is a veterinarian, he does not take care of people. This event came back to haunt him after meeting Zhou Yu for the first time. The conductor pointed out he asked Dr. Zhang to help her but he would not.

Using the technique of flashbacks, the filmmaker provides a surreal feeling throughout the film which adds mystery, intensity and depth to the story. The method works very well throughout except when Xiu (a dual role played by Gong Li) enters the film. To this viewer, it is unclear who Xiu is. Initially she was mistaken to be Zhou Yu reminsicing about the past. Only at the end does it become clear what role she plays and that it is a different person altogether. There are many endearing scenes which occur on the train as Dr. Zhang and Zhou Yu strike up a friendship which eventually leads to a torrid love affair ... The playful quality of their flirtation, the challenging questions each poses to the other, leads to attraction and fascination which is very well portrayed.

The mystery of Zhou Yu's visits to Chongyang becomes an emotional chasm between Dr. Zhang and Zhou Yu ... Trying to please Zhou Yu, Dr. Zhang accompanies her by train to visit a mysterious place called Xan Hu where there is supposed to be a lake. It is poetically described by Chen Ching as an "enchanted celadon" and used as a metaphor for their love. To Zhou Yu's disappointment, there is no lake. The poetic imagery of the lake haunts her ... Dr. Zhang tries to lift up her spirits and reassures her, "If it is in your heart it is real. If it is not, it never was." These soothing words are later spoken back to Dr. Zhang by Zhou Yu. They strike his heart with a bull's eye precision just as she intended. The entire film has an artistic dreamy quality. The scenery as viewed from the train is breath-takingly beautiful. Also, there are many subtle creative elements making it a pleasure to view again and again. One can miss so much with only one viewing due to the artistic quality of the film and possibly because of the translation from Chinese to English. The film explores the relationship called love by comparing and contrasting the practical vs imaginary, the real vs unreal, the romantic vs pragmatic through intense lyrical scenes which build up interest and intrigue. There is a surprise ending which is totally unexpected but very realistic. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)
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on 3 November 2007
Zhou Yu's Train (2002) is the follow up by director Zhou Sun to his successful 2000 film Breaking the Silence. Both star Li Gong, who is both a charismatic beautiful presence in so many films and surely one of the world's great actors.

A young woman, Zhou Yu (Li Gong), meets a poet called Chen Qing (Tony Leung) and falls in love with the man and his poetry. His passionate poetry reveals that he is in love with poetry, she with love itself. While visiting him in a distant city she meets a doctor who is able to reach parts of her nature she had not been aware of: his dour, cynical, pragmatic nature is in strong contrast to the introverted, shy poet she loves. How can Zhou Yu respond to both men while being true to herself? This is her journey, her train. The synopsis however can only trivialise the film.

Viewers who are used to narrative structure or frenetic action sequences controlling their viewing experience need to approach this film with caution. Zhou Sun seems to agree with Picasso that asking the right questions is far more important than finding the right answers. The film asks many questions, and is tactful enough to let the viewers find the answers for themselves. The director uses a structure whereby what events mean to the characters who experience them is far more important than the events themselves. The film tries to depict states of mind: films I am reminded of are Julio Medem's "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" and Ingmar Bergman's "Persona". While "Zhou Yu's Train" is not as good a film as these, the fact that the comparison can be made is high praise.

At several points in the film we are shown Zhou Yu holding a book of poems written by her lover Chen Qing . The book is called Zhou Yu's Train: the director clearly comparing his film with a collection of poems. The poems are full of emotion, very romantic and saturated with landscape (as so much Chinese poetry seems to be). The poems, the cinematography by Yu Wang and the music by Shigeru Umebayashi are all just as important in achieving the effect Zhou Sun is seeking as anything that happens on screen. The music is outstanding, able to stand on its own as Zbigniew Preisner's score for Kierlowski's Dekalog did. Yu Wang's work shows that exquisite landscape is still abundant in China. The film would not work with less outstanding actors in the principal parts.

An influence on Zhou Sun is surely Yasujiro Ozu, who used trains frequently to explore the situations his characters were in. Ozu was a master who could tell a whole story within just one frame and Zhou Sun is not yet as adept as this. But the shots of a train passing another going in the opposite direction is meant to tell us that here the characters who seem to interact are each going their own journey, with little chance of communicating. At times scenes are used metaphorically: we see the car Zhou Yu is travelling in to Tibet to visit Chen Qing spiralling into a river, and hear that a bus she is travelling on has met with an accident. These tell of wasted journeys, not literal events.

Is romance an ideal or an illusion? How far should we follow an ideal or an illusion? How real are the events that take place in our hearts compared to the events we experience everyday? Could love be the only experience we have that doesn't derive from our senses? Is compromise ever worthwhile? If you've ever thought of questions like these this film will move you deeply.
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on 28 September 2016
My wife loves this film, though she is Chinese ! A bit of a chick flick !
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on 31 July 2016
Great film. I enjoyed it very much .Good story.
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on 18 May 2015
Can't really comment as I have not had a chance to watch it yet. Only bought it because of the Modern Chinese Movie & Theatre course that I am doing at university.
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on 4 October 2009
Reviews are personal. I have experienced the filmes of Bergman, Truffaut, Ozu, Tarkovsky---and have come away brightened. This movie did nothing. apart from the shots of moving trains, which served as geographic interest, the story got nowhere and I felt I was robbed of precious time. It's all very well to pay homages to great masters. But arty for arts sakes I dont agree with. Stories need a good structure to hold the audience, otherwise framing, lighting and actors mean nothing. What you get is an odd love affair between two drifters. An average David Attenborough documentary would have illuminated a thousand times over. Long live Sir David!
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on 19 April 2012
don't buy this, i don't think, worst film list, sos i had to write more words to fulfill this review, difficult, how's about 'aaaaahhhhhh' and i paid money for that.
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