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Review: A Beautiful Life

Chance encounters
By MICHAEL C. WALSH  |  May 19, 2011
1.5 1.5 Stars

Talk about a literal movie title. Andrew Lau's romantic yarn starts off small enough: during a night out on the town, an uptight security guard (Liu Ye) is harassed by a drunk yet beautiful young woman (Shu Qi). Being an upstanding gentleman, he helps her home, assuming he'll never run into her again. But of course that isn't the case, and after a couple of chance encounters, we get a glimpse of the circumstances that shape their personalities. He cares for his autistic younger brother and neglects his own social life; she's a real-estate agent in a cutthroat Beijing market who turns to alcohol and extramarital affairs for stability. Watching her adapt to his simpler lifestyle is where the heart of the film lies. Unfortunately, Lau throws in one too many wrinkles, squandering our empathy by forcing us through a long-winded relationship involving betrayal and illness. The story would be better suited to A Beautiful Two Months.

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