The storytelling is oblique in the extreme, but as near as I can discern it, the film tells the story of a young woman (Gong Li) who, after reading a collection of poems by Chen Ching (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) called Zhou Yu’s Train, attempts to imaginatively recover the experience of Zhou Yu (Gong Li again). Zhou Yu is an artisan who travels vast distances by train twice a week to keep up an increasingly troubled romance with Chen Ching. The other major figure is a veterinarian (Sun Hongle…), who also travels on that train, and wants to become more than a friend to Zhou Yu.
I’ll admit it: I was confused, and I don’t pretend that the above synopsis is a perfectly accurate representation of the actual plot. I think I’m right, anyway. The non-linear narrative does make the film hard to follow, and Zhou Yu is a rather difficult character to warm up to. The film is extraordinarily beautiful, however, and the train imagery that ties it all together is brilliant.
Though this is, generally, a quiet film, there is one very significant exception, and that is the sounds of the train. Here is where the 5.1 track really excels. The placement is superb, whether we are hearing background clatter or the roar as the locomotive enters and exits tunnels. The environmental effects are all well done, and the dialogue never distorts.
The film’s beauty is well served by the transfer, especially at the level of colours (lush) and contrasts (strong). There is very little grain, and the image is very sharp. There is, however, some degree of visible edge enhancement that sometimes interferes with the visual splendour.
Nothing but trailers for Zhou Yu’s Train, Bon Voyage, Beijing Bicycle and The Road Home. The menu is basic.
Beautfiul, leisurely, and confusing, but certainly worth seeing.
Special Features List