Lost In The Stars (2023) Review

Lost In The Stars (2023) Review
Directors: Rui Cui, Liu Xiang
Screenplay: Chen Sicheng, Gu Shuyi, Yin Yixiong
Box office: 486.1 million USD
Based on: A Trap for Lonely Man; by film by Alexey Korenev; A Trap for Lonely Man; by play by Robert Thomas
Chinese: 消失的她

Artistic Allure: Lost in the Stars and Starry Night

A Dual Sensation

When you look at Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, there is an illusion it creates that is undeniably petrifying and sensational at the same time. Watching Lost in the Stars somehow feels the same way.

Neo-Noir Intrigue

Behind many facades, there is a story of heart that unravels in the most neo-noir kind of form, reminiscent of old Hong Kong thrillers married with the presentation of new Asian action cinema.

A Cinematic Revelation

Released originally in 2022, Lost in the Stars comes to Netflix almost a whole year later with a bang. The 2-hour film is nail-biting from start to finish, and if you’re someone who likes the twisted tales of Park Chan-Wook-style thrillers, there is a lot to enjoy here.

A Critical Eye

I don’t mean to be all praise for the film; there are some minute flaws, but the viewing experience is exactly what is expected from it.

Asian Thrillers: A Fusion of Styles

Blending East and West

Recently, a lot of Asian thrillers are an amalgamation of all the things people enjoy about Western action cinema. Take, for example, the Vietnamese film Fury or the Korean film Kill Boksoon. There is definitely a pattern and trend here, and it doesn’t always work in the positive.

Striking a Balance

Stories can be lost in an overstimulated presentation, or the presentation can be fantastic, but the stories told can be terrible. There’s a good balance in this absurd story, which I later found to be inspired by true events.

A Tale of Complexity

Wang Nuannuan’s (alias) story is, of course, a much simpler and very disheartening one. On the other hand, it is also one of determination and perseverance. The writers of this film have picked up the crux of this story and converted it into a thriller rather than an emotional drama.

Unraveling the Enigma: Lost in the Stars

A Disappearing Act

Lost in the Stars is a very liberally creative take on the crux of this story, delivered in the most twisted manner possible. Before you go looking up the name I’ve just mentioned here; remember, you’ll get spoilers you don’t want to know before watching this movie.

The Desperate Pursuit

With that out of the picture, Lost in the Stars follows a loving husband, He Fei, whose wife seemingly vanishes into thin air when they’re celebrating their first anniversary in a small tourist spot in Thailand. It’s been 15 days since she’s been missing, and the police are unwilling to do anything for He Fei, making him resort to his own methods to find her with the help of top Chinese lawyer Chen Mai.

The Deceptive Facade

It seems fairly simple, but the complexity of the story lies in its poker-faced nature. We pretty much see the film from the perspective of a lost and desperate husband, making us forget the bizarre nature of the story sometimes.

Unexpected Turns

As said story progresses, we’re hit with googly after googly, which makes us feel like the truth behind the missing wife is slipping further away as time passes.

Stellar Performances

Zhu Liong as He Fei is definitely the star of this film, as it is in his eyes that we see the story unravel. He’s impeccable as a loving husband who can’t survive without his wife. There’s desperation in every move of his. But on the other hand, the highlight is Shen Man, the strong female lawyer who is self-confident and extremely effective at what she does.

Femme Fatale Intrigue

She, too, has a sort of desperation in her to make sure things go right, and this missing wife’s case is solved. Most importantly, the bizarreness of the story really begins when the femme fatale, a woman who is pretending to be He Fei’s wife, shows up out of the blue. He Fei is certain she isn’t his wife, but there’s no evidence to prove that. In fact, all evidence points towards her being his actual wife (don’t worry, it’s nothing like Angelina Jolie’s heartbreaking Changeling). Already, you feel hooked, right?

Lost In The Stars (2023) Review

Cinematic Craftsmanship

Suspense and Stylistic Choices

The suspenseful music paired with the noir lighting adds to the edge-of-your-seat nature of the film, especially when there are inserts of Fast & Furious style driving sequences. Somehow, Chen Mai is capable of doing it all.

Nuances and Controversies

There is one jarring thing about the film that makes the xenophobia of the Chinese against other Asian countries rather obvious, but it seems by the end that it stands redundant. Still, it comes across very clearly, much too often.

Layers of Subtext

At the same time, there are certain undertones (which will go into spoiler territory if I explain further) that add an extra special touch to this film, but simultaneously, they are common in much of the content put out from the country right now.

The Campy Twist

The film does move into campy territory in the end; there’s something that shifts and makes it more dramatic and out there for added effect, which may disconcert viewers and change their opinions entirely. For me, it was tolerable, but it definitely leveled down the film a little bit.

Final Verdict

A Thrilling Recommendation

I definitely recommend this film if you like a story with absurd twists and interesting symbolism. I really appreciate the usage of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which adds an element of fantasy to the whole thing. In proper Asian style, this is a genre-bender, and it’s fun because of that.

Linguistic Harmony

An extra special part of this film is the use of English and how well it simply fits. Although, for the longest time, I didn’t know which country the film was based in, which irked me a lot because it insinuated that all South Asian countries are crime-ridden.

Prepare for Impact

Beware of the gut-punching reveal in the end, and enjoy the ride. I would give Lost in the Stars 3.5 out of 5 stars. It delivers a promise of thrills and weaves a complicated story that doesn’t get overwhelmed with distractions.

FAQs

Q1: Is Lost in the Stars suitable for viewers who enjoy Park Chan-Wook-style thrillers?

A1: Absolutely. If you appreciate the twisted narratives characteristic of Park Chan-Wook’s films, Lost in the Stars offers a gripping experience.

Q2: Are there any noteworthy performances in the film?

A2: Zhu Liong’s portrayal of He Fei and Shen Man’s portrayal of the strong female lawyer are standout performances that add depth to the narrative.

Q3: Does the film incorporate elements of English seamlessly?

A3: Yes, the use of English in the film is skillfully integrated into the dialogue, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

Q4: Are there any cultural or controversial elements to be aware of?

A4: The film does touch on some xenophobic undertones, particularly in the portrayal of the Chinese’s attitude towards other Asian countries. However, by the end, this aspect becomes less prominent.

Q5: How would you rate Lost in the Stars overall?

A5: I would give Lost in the Stars a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. It delivers on its promise of thrills and weaves a complex narrative without succumbing to distractions.

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