Yeah, this film is a masterpiece. I'm gonna go so far as to call it Cronenberg's best film.
An intelligent, searing attack on 'exoticism', gender and East-versus-West relations, unfortunately Cronenberg's adaptation falls flat overall. The pacing is sluggish, the visuals are blandly conventional and John Lone is NO Jaye Davidson, seeming too stiff and miscast with his blank features and broad shoulders to play the seductive/'perfect' Eastern woman
I'm currently watching this on Netflix and loving it on several levels - political, sexual, cinematographic. I'm surprised it's not appreciated more by Cronenberg fans. Is the sort of person who gravitates towards SCANNERS and VIDEODROME too transphobic to enjoy this, or is it simply too refined and mature for the typical lover of horror? John Lone makes for a stunningly beautiful woman, completely convincing me of the character's essential femininity. Jeremy Irons plays his usual genial European son, this one more timid than Klaus von Bulow but still inarguably masculine. While the Cultural Revolution is only seen in glimpses so far, it is still in its infacy during the period the film is set, not yet becoming the national disaster that led to the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese and the defacement of one of the richest of cultures. It's fascinating to think that Puccini's opera inspired this and another great, completely different artwork of the 1990s - the Weezer album PINKERTON.
Certainly it came out following "The Crying Game" though the way John Lone portrays Song is different from Jaye Davison's character in that film; Lone goes beyond being distinguished as either male or female by the end, that we realize identity in masculinity or femininity is no different from one's choice of politics or race. Occidental or Oriental, Man or Woman, love and devotion transcend these ideations.
A very underrated Cronenberg film. It is a story of identity- sexual and cultural. If it feels trite and obvious in its early stages, give it time. The third act provides a nuanced commentary on the risks of cultural stereotyping and the dangers to self of perpetuating them.
A departure from Cronenberg's usual work, and probably his weakest. As with the similarly themed 'The Crying Game', she was so obviously a man from the very beginning, it's hard to buy his obsession with her. Great performance from Jeremy Irons and beautiful cinematography and production design, but the story failed to be very compelling on any level.