412 words on Asian Films
After having seen the great Hero and the new House of Flying Daggers by Yimou Zhang and liking the former one better, I decided to try the film that came before Hero as well. It is called Happy Times (Hotel) and is about a guy, Zhao, looking for a wife.
He’s quite broke, but doesn’t admit that and instead claims to be a hotel manager because he and his friend renovated an old bus in a park which they rent out to young couples who want a bit of – erm – privacy. With this story he starts dating a fat woman who isn’t very nice. And she immediately tells him to get rid of her daughter Wu for him. She’s not really her daughter apparently, and she’s blind, and the woman wants her out of her way. So Zhao is supposed to give her a job in his hotel, which of course is a bit tricky, particularly as the ‘hotel’ is removed by the authorities.
He decides to just fake the hotel for the girl, who is supposed to give massages, by building a few walls in an old factory and having friends come along and be the customers. With the lack of money to give her as a tip even, this all eventually breaks down but not it a bad way. Wu appreciates what Zhao wanted to do for her, giving her the strength to finally leave home, and Zhao starts liking her as well. At the end of the film Zhao is alone again with ‘his’ daughter having left and the woman he dated having found another, richer guy, but he has done something good.
While I found the surrounding story a bit annoying, what happens between Zhao and Wu is quite good. He really starts taking care of her and enabling her to lead a life of her own – quite in contrast to what she lived before. And the way he does it, by building a fake massage parlor is as cool as it crude. Counting on that she is blind, everything looks painfully wrong – with care only being taken that it feels right. They even record the sounds outside a real massage parlor and continuously play back that tape in the factory where everything takes place.
While all that looks brilliant to Zhao and his friends, the fake is obvious to Wu. But she doesn’t reveal that as she enjoys that someone is caring for her. Great.
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