Not the new beginning she anticipated.
STOLEN LIFE (Sheng si jie) (2005) – I’ve read that some people can pinpoint an exact moment in their lives when everything from that time on began to fail. Often, that point of failure begins with love. Stolen Life is based on a true story of a young woman learns that love can serve as the shadow for deception.
Yanni (Xun Zhou) was fourteen when she first saw her father; a silent man who dressed as a pheasant. The man who gave her life, yet she didn’t know him. Her parents gave her to her aunt and grandmother when she was a baby so they could work and send money to them to take care of her. This allowed Yanni to resort to a lonely silence about her personality, and her family worried about her not becoming anything more than a married laborer. He father suggested differently; he encouraged Yanni to go to college and do well. They offered her their blessing, and would continue to work their miserable jobs to see her through school. When she was accepted into the University (her first act of independence), she paid for her cab to college and what was intended to be the start of a beautiful life, quickly turned into her worse nightmare.
If she understood him. She’d lose him.
Almost immediately, she met Muyu (Jun Wu) in a vehicular collision that served as a metaphor for the beginning and end of their relationship. She could not see him for who he was–Muyu had become so dear to her, ever so mindful of her birthday and her education. He knew all the right things to say–he has a way of explaining his long disappearances–talent to cloak his deception. Soon Yanni came to realize that even the sweetest tongue has the sharpest tooth. You could almost see the deception in his eyes. From the very beginning, he was always saying the right things. Grooming her from the start, and it seemed from the outset he was warning her–that he is a poor driver, she a college student and that he may not be like other guys, but that he loved her. For a moment there, he may have. Being in love has a way of wiping out the facts and blurring the lines.
When Yanni found herself pregnant for Muyu, she abandoned every freedom her education and her parents had granted her. She gave her life away for him. For love. So she began to live her days in silence, in their cramped basement apartment and waiting for her baby to be born.
Yanni was never the master of her fate.
Yanni left the constrained occupancy of her grandmother and aunt’s home to that of Muyu’s basement. Eventually, her family finds out what she has done and where she is now. But this was nothing compared to the eventual end that her love will bring her life to–betrayal. Director Li Shaohong and writer Liao Yimei‘s Stolen Life won the Best Narrative Film Feature at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. The camera follows Yanni as if it were a shadow of her consciousnesses, carefully cataloging every moment of her life. When the film was near the end, the focus turned to the audience and with it, Yanni’s expressive plea for help.
This is a delicate film that follows a naive heroine who, like so many girls just like her, would one day fall for a guy who could change their destiny forever.
For better, or for worse.