{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gong Li

Now it is the time to write something about her. I was almost enticed by her small role in 2046. Doomed gambler of love, thats what she plays. I find something sensual of higher order in smeared lipsticks (I even liked Urmila Matondkar's lipstick smearing act in Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya). 2046's final passionate kiss is very erotic, potently dangerous and doomed like love. But nothing come close to the way Gong Li leaves the frame in 2046, with out of bound lip color. I don't remember it fully but I found camera almost fixed on her hand wearing a black glove, carrying a purse and her hips as she climbs down the stairs or may be she walks out on a paved road. At that time, I gave all the credit to Wong Kar-wai. But the next film (The Hand segment of Eros), although also by Wong Kar-wai, proved how she can elevate and blur the line between desire, love and pain of its impossibility. The Hand is more explicit and shorter than 2046 and In Mood for Love, and so it might not work on their level (also, we have the same by Kar-wai many a times), but Gong Li makes every thing delectable, delicate and delicious. Gong Li has power to utter words in a way they mean both rejection and approval, with a firm face, and it all points to a dangerous territory ahead. She is just opposite to other excellent actress, Isabelle Huppert. While Huppert is so bland, covert and distant that what ever little precise emotion she displays gives sublime pleasure, Li displays an oriental mix of emotions, spicy and suppurated, its both pain and pleasure to watch her simmer and sigh.

I saw Raise the Red Lantern last week and the younger Gong Li as as good as her consummated version. The film starts with her close up where she accepts her fate and then she moves on a journey of power, family politics, sex, betrayals, deaths and finally madness. The film, shot in beautiful reds, is a mix of traditions, entrapment, soap opera and alienation, works like a Kafka-like parable. Gong Li's Songlian tries to play the game of the house like the other sisters, trying to be as sinister as them, but eventually loses everything, but in all this she becomes our window to the dark secrets of the house of red lanterns. She elevates this visual treat to something universal and bigger than its parts. Gong Li's Songlian longs for VIP foot massages and the red lanterns, not for the company of the master but for the power it brings along, and as the game becomes more complex, she single-handedly injects ghostly hysteria into the film. Li manages to became a living ghost in the house, a token of all the misdeeds and family secrets, consumed by both. She has gift to fill atmosphere either with unbearable longing, or amorous danger, or both. I must see, To Live and Farewell My Concubine soon. And I think she must work with Almodóvar and Lynch at least once. In Lynch's film, she can even speak Mandarin, it wont obscure the film further.


wildflower seed said...

:) at last sentence.

Have you seen Miami Vice? Gotta see Miami Vice.

wildflower seed said...

Oh, and watch the Director's Cut, not the original theatrical version.

Alok said...

Nice post. More posts on acting and actors please... interesting how you compare with huppert.

btw, its farewell my concubine not by concubine!

anurag said...

I was thinking to see Miami Vice but waiting for some solid recommendation, now I have got it :)

Alok, thanks. changed 'by' to 'my' ;)
I think I should write about Shelley Duvall too, she is brilliant in 3 Women.

km said...

Gong Li.

Yum. :)

anurag said...

Nice to see you here...

What all places did you visit/stay in India ?

and yup(m), Gong Li is quite gorgeous :)

kabuer said...

i like to introduce a fan site of gong li with a lot of Pictures,Galleries,Movies,Videos,Wallpapers.