A Chinese émigré travels New Zealand with his wife’s ashes, reliving their relationship, in Feng Xiaogang’s shamelessly mushy weepie.
To international audiences more accustomed to the relative restraint of China’s arthouse exports, Only Cloud Knows, a slab of toothcrackingly sentimental mooncake from regular national box-office conqueror Feng Xiaogang, might come as a bit of a surprise. This episodic, determinedly winsome love story, told in honeyed flashback, follows a grieving husband as he journeys to the places of significance to his beloved, dead wife across their adoptive New Zealand homeland.
The locations are stunning, the actors attractive and Feng — initially a comedy director, though he’s branched out in recent years to historical epics like Back to 1942 and dramas like 2017’s record-breaking Youth — did not get where he is without learning a thing or two about playing an audience’s responses. So while your rational mind is rebelling against its more shameless manipulations, your hands may well be scrabbling through your bag for tissues, napkins, store receipts, candy wrappers — anything to mop up a flood of saltwater tears so deep, it’s possible a whole pod of whales (a recurring motif) lives within it. Continue reading.