Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kelly Chen in "Lost and Found"

Kelly Chan Wai-Lam was the perfect actress to play Lam, the lead in Lost and Found and it was the perfect movie for an actress of her looks, talent and emotional range. Lost and Found hits the audience with successive waves of pathos and bathos, each more fierce than the last, demanding that we succumb to its "Love means never having to say you are an actress" gestalt. Which is not to say it is a bad movie--it is a very good three handkerchief weeper that charts the life and loves of a sublimely lovely woman who is stricken with cancer and who gets more beautiful as the disease progresses. Add the gorgeous Kaneshiro Takeshi fighting back tears, a child bravely mourning her mother and an all but homeless (although still cute, clean and funny) family of kids trying to stay together and only the hardest heart will keep from breaking.

Kelly Chan's narrow emotional compass and lack of connection with the other actors in the movie serve her well. Lam would be present physically to her friends and family but her mind/soul/spirit is busy as a subject of the Kingdom of Cancer so Chan's lack of affect is exactly what is called for.

First and most importantly she plays a person dying in the hospital:

Still dying and not happy about it:

And dying some more:

But it isn't all wasting away against the dark peach sheets of the hospital. What she does best as a ravishingly beautiful performer is simply look at the camera:

But part of shooting a movie with Kelly Chan is to make sure she varies her expression to the extent she can, something which director Lee Chi-Ngai didn't do. Here she is with Kaneshiro Takeshi. He looks shocked and surprised while she looks like she (almost) always does:

There is a shot of her eavesdropping on a tragic phone conversation:

And another of her on the craggy, wind-swept highlands of Scotland where she has gone in search of what she thinks is her true love (but we know it isn't, since it is Michael Wong):

In case the audience hasn't surrendered after watching Kaneshiro Takeshi stay dewy-eyed and noble for the entire movie (he has eyes that rival Bambi's for expressiveness) Lee, who wrote and produced Lost and Found as well as directing it, brings out the biggest of big guns at the end. Lam, still as exquisite and inexpressive as she was when she was alive, gets to observe her own funeral and see how her life and death have brought together those who knew her:

What works best, though, is exactly why this movie was cast the way it was--the face that may not have launched a thousand ships but has sold a lot of tickets:


  1. I was a very late bloomer to this movie. I have been watching HK movies for over 15 years but just watched Lost and Found a few months ago. And it was wonderful. I don't think Kelly is utilized in films that well, especially recently. Have you seen The Empress and the Warrior? Oy vey! I enjoyed her earlier roles though. Metade Fumaca is a standout for me. Great write up.

  2. Yeah, I loved this film and Anna Magdalena and And I Hate You So -- I think those three are good showcases for Kelly's limited emotional range.

    Yeah, I second what Jared said about Empress and the Warriors: there's some unintentionally funny stuff in that flick.

  3. This is a movie that I also completely missed until I saw it mentioned on a blog. My initial reaction was wondering how I could not have seen it.

    "Lavender", though, which also starred Kelly and Kaneshiro Takeshi was grotesquely bad.

  4. Hi ewaffle --

    Don't know about you but I hesitated a bit to check out this film because two of its three stars happen to be Kelly Chen and Michael Wong. Eventually, however, I decided to take the plunge on account of Takeshi Kaneshiro being in it -- and have to say that he truly is wonderful in the movie but that the work turns out to have its own charm.

    BTW, have you seen the later Lee Chi Ngai-Takeshi Kaneshiro collaboration, "The Sleepless Town"? Very different in tone but also worth checking out (even if, truth be told, I definitely think that "Lost and Found" is their best work for certain).

  5. This is great--thanks to everyone for the additional movie recommendations, particularly since Kelly Chen is often cast as the modern equivalent of a flower vase (hua ping in Cantonese??).

    I may be the only fan of HK movies who hasn't seen "Anna Magdelena", nor have I watched "And I Hate You So" or "The Sleepless Town".

    Must agree, YTSL--Kelly Chen and Michael Wong starring the same movie was not an attractive proposition. There are some reviews on HKMDB from people whose taste I trust who thought very highly of it so I gave it a try.