Lighting up the Stars is one of a kind. It is not just another comedy about two hearts embracing each other, nor just another movie about life and love. It is a journey - you will be laughing most of the time, probably watery-eyed at some points, while in the end feeling contentment, for the sake of people who love and loved you.
Set and filmed in Wuhan, the city of unlimited energy and southern heat, Lighting up the Stars brought the audience to noisy and crowded streets, zooming in on ordinary people - people who are not as privileged, sophisticated, or even well educated; people who work with their own hands to make ends meet, people who have to fix their problems one after another - in other words, people like us.
Here came Mo Sanmei. He was even less privileged, a loser one might call - He was just out of jail now working at a funeral home, his girlfriend cheated on him, his family thought he was useless, and he was stuck with a child who chased him down. So the child, Xiaowen, was not any luckier. More or less abandoned, all Xiaowen had was her grandma, who just sadly passed away and was removed to the funeral home by Mo Sanmei. Xiaowen at Kindergarten age, having no concept of death, assumed Mo Sanmei kidnapped her grandma, so she went after and found him. At this point Xiaowen was practically homeless. Mo Sanmei reluctantly took her in and eventually graduated into her father figure. To comfort Xiaowen, he told her - "Grandma became a star in the sky. She will come to your dreams and talk to you." The story twisted and turned, centering on Mo Sanmei's role as a father and as a funeral worker, intertwined with a tensioned relationship between Mo Sanmei and his own father. In the end, reconciliations came with a surprise, echoing the clues seeded throughout.
Zhu Yilong and Yang Enyou played the father and daughter combo with eye-popping performances. The leading man, Zhu Yilong, transformed himself into Mo Sanmei, unrecognizable, with jaw-dropping changes in his looks and demeanors. In sharp contrast to his usual classy gentleman self, Zhu Yilong disappeared into this buzz-cut, gum-chewing dude with a cigarette hanging from his lips and a thick gold chain on his neck, wearing tank top/shorts/flip flops. Zhu Yilong WAS Mo Sanmei, everything but a gentleman, rough, ill tempered, yelling and fighting whenever he felt like to. It is this character who fully developed in front of the audience into a better version of himself, through stories with Xiaowen, his father, his ex, and his job. Zhu Yilong delivered Mo Sanmei's character and growth naturally and convincingly. His performance reminded me of Charliz Theron's transformation in the movie Monster, - Yes, that impressive.
Entertaining and artistic at the same time, the movie was an immediate box office success, grossing 236 million USD (1,600,000,000 RMB) in the first month regardless of its somewhat limited release due to CoVid regulations. With a low budget fraction of its earning, Lighting Up the Stars is a commercial winner despite a semi-indie make. The movie is fast paced with clever humors and touching highlights. Chinese culture is reflected throughout the movie, with Mo Sanmei and Xiaowen symbolizing legendary tale characters, the Monkey King and Nezha. Worth mentioning is first time director and screenwriter Liu Jiangjiang. The significance of this debut work might be his Reservoir Dogs, - let's see.
Meanwhile the movie has practical values. For medical workers, it gives a glance at the closure after their patients lose the battle, helping caregivers to cope with frustration. It is also a good family movie. It can be a first attempt to expose young children to the concept of death. They will learn in a rather lighter-hearted way from the experience of another child. "Loved ones who passed away would become stars and come to your dreams" - It is healing and poetic, and can be a practical transition for children's understanding of a very difficult concept.
Lightening up the stars started with stories about departing from life, but its real focus was living the life and celebrating it. After watching the movie, the starry sky will not be the same. Looking at the stars, you see life, you see love, and you see dreams you want to dream, just as Mo Sanmei did at the end of the movie.
Having been released after serving his sentence, a funeral director accidentally crosses paths with a girl which brings about an unexpected change in his attitude towards life.
September 26, 2022 at 02:50 PM
Tech specs720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1 hr 52 min
P/S 8 / 50