Saturday, August 8, 2009
INTERNET DISASTER (China; 2003)
D: Lee Tso-nam
Newly installed in a gleaming Shanghai suburb by her frequently absentee businessman husband (Yu Rong-guang), 18-year-old newlywed Vivian Chan (who’s far from 18 years old) continues her email relationship with an “online husband” who apparently understands her better than the real thing. She also strikes up a platonic, real-world entanglement with a ski bum (Alex To) she meets in her computer class. And then there’s her shamelessly nosy new friend from next door, who looks after that house with her shiftless boyfriend. When Viv’s internet paramour starts exhibiting stalker tendencies, the list of suspects is, obviously, a short one! Though it reflects an increasingly affluent and techno-savvy mainland Chinese audience, the film nonetheless toes the communist party line that maintains the internet can’t be trusted in the hands of mere citizens, a message ultimately delivered by a reformed Viv to her class of rosy-cheeked primary-school pun’kins (who are presumably rosy-cheeked because their classroom evidently has no heat!), one of whom counters that “surfing the web” would be OK because she knows how to swim! Awww. In revealing Yu’s character plays no role whatsoever in Viv’s predicament, the filmmakers flatly suggest that bored wives of wealthy Chinese businessmen would be a lot better off if they weren’t so darned uppity, and yet at the same time, scenes between Alex and Viv—as they frolic through sparkly shopping malls, restaurants and tourist attractions—look like something out of a Korean soap opera, a reminder to wealthy Chinese businessmen, one supposes, to keep an eye on their assets.