Tang Wei is an authentic Anna in 'Late Autumn'

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 30, 2012
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Tang Wei is authentic Anna in "late Autumn"

Against the backdrop of the red-glowing sun, heavy footsteps break the silence in a tranquil Seattle. A woman in a ragged dress is seen running desperately through the avenues flanked by towering trees. Her left eye is bruised and she is short of breath.

She stops for a while and then abruptly runs back to a house where her middle-aged overweight husband is seen dead on the floor. In the distance, sirens wail, ushering in the looming of her grim future behind bars over the next nine years.

The abovementioned scene forms the prelude for the romantic film "Late Autumn", in which protagonist Anna Chen, played by Chinese A-list actress Tang Wei, meets the slick, easy-going, Korean immigrant Hoon, played by South Korean doyen Hyun Bin, during her three-day prison leave for her mother’s funeral.

The gloomy tone of the film becomes apparent early on, when the two first meet. Hoon asks Anna to lend him US$ 30 for a ride on the greyhound bus headed for Seattle.

Embarking on the journey, the two isolated souls cross paths at a time when both their worlds are filled with a cold emptiness.

Hoon is the one doing the talking, whereas Anna, who is dealing with the uncertain challenges of facing a world she has been isolated from for seven years, merely shows her poker face.

Anna’s passion for life has been slowly fading over her seven-year imprisonment. Her family’s distanciation from her has done little other than further shut her heart down. However, her first lover’s marriage; with whom she had the affair that sparked the conflict with her jealous husband, was the final drop that made her heart turn to stone.

Anna chooses to flee, but doesn’t know where to go. At the point where she is feeling at a complete loss, Hoon lends his hand to the woman who is sitting alone on the street. As a former professional companion, a man paid to comfort women, he seems highly skilled mending broken hearts. But he does not always succeed. Anna turns him down.

However, the situation doesn’t seem hopeless yet. The film takes an interesting turn when the two strangers get into each other’s world without any expectations or demands. They take the sight-seeing bus and visit the amusement park, where they catch the sights of a couple on the verge of breaking-up. At that particular moment, the movie adopts a montage sequence to compare the two couples’ hearts through lip syncing, which becomes a joke between Anna and Hoon when riding the bumper cars. But the surrealistic portrait of the other couple, dancing, hugging and then getting up to disappear into the distance, leaves the viewer questioning their relevance to this story.

Maybe screenwriter and director Tae-Yong Kim wants the movie to mirror life, in a more philosophical way, as life is undoubtedly full of reunions and separations. That is a truth something no one can avoid. But even so, people can still have faith and hope or dream for the best.

In the movie, this is exactly what Anna does. She goes to the spot where Hoon had promised to wait for her the day she was released. Although Hoon, who had been trapped in a scheme by a very wealthy man wanting to avenge his wife’s infidelity, is unlikely to be able to fulfill his commitment, Anna waits as the clock ticks by and the door swings open and closes several times. The film ends with a smile playing around her lips and hears her whisper "it has been a long time…".

Tang’s successful portrait of Anna won her best actress of the Paeksang Arts Awards last year in South Korea. After her controversial role in Ang Lee’s "Lust, Caution", Tang has proved herself anything but a mere pin-up. With years of ups and downs, appraisal and criticism, she has become an expert in portraying the women who may look fragile, but are lions at heart.

Like Anna, who serves a nine-year sentence in prison but still bears good hopes for what may come, Tang is patient and undaunted as well. She gets on with life and leaves both comments and critics for what they are as only time can tell what her movies will mean to the public.


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