Dreams May Come
Director: Xu Jinglei (2006)
Two leads, one scene and endless dialogue-Dreams May Come sounds more like a play than a movie, and it might have been better on the stage instead of the screen. If you want to tell people what the story is about, you'd have to recite the whole dialogue. Written by famed novelist Wang Shuo, the lines are funny, sarcastic and memorable-the soul of this modest movie. Some of Wang's newly-invented words have proved so popular, they've been adopted by audiences as new post-film slang.
Shot in a dimly lit room without using too many filming techniques, some have complained that the two-hour film is tiresome and chatty. It becomes clear that the plot is not director Xu Jinglei's foremost concern, if there's even a plot involved to begin with. The main characters are a director and an actress. One night, while shooting a film, they begin a long conversation, talking about art, values, dreams and life. They talk and talk, by turns critical, resigned and confused.
Through the two characters' examination of their inner selves, screenwriter Wang expresses his personal outlook on these issues. And that's why his loyal fans find delight in watching it-it's like a screen version of one of Wang's novels.
As a film director, Xu Jinglei is still a relative novice. A basic flaw in her movies is that she seems to like telling a story through monologues or dialogues, not through the plot and the characters. In her previous film, Letter from an Unknown Woman, the story is mainly pushed through by the protagonist's narration. Dreams May Come is the same. We can't help but wonder, if Wang Shuo had directed this film himself, would he have done it differently?
(That's Beijing August 7, 2006)