Director Lou Ye is no stranger to controversy. His last film, Summer Palace, was a graphic depiction of the intense and passionate relationship of two students at the fictional Beiqing University during the time of the student revolution. The feature earned him critical acclaim from Western film critics, as well as a five-year ban on all his filmmaking endeavours from the Chinese authorities.
Spring Fever, Lou’s latest offering, is a tribute to a powerful love hidden in a secret affair. The film centres on the fraught relationship of Wang Ping (Wu Wei) and his wife Lin Xue (Jiang Jiaqi). When Lin suspects Wang’s infidelity, she hires Luo Haitao (Chen Sicheng) to spy on him, only to discover that not only is her husband cheating on her, his ongoing tryst is with a man, Jiang Cheng (Qin Hao). Soon the spy and his girlfriend are pulled into Jiang’s sexual orbit as well.
The film itself has received mixed reviews, especially from international critics bored by Lou’s melodramatic handling of the poly-sexual content, but it remains a victory for Lou’s own secret love affair: filmmaking. The ban on Lou’s filmmaking, the second of his career, was imposed in 2006, and so Spring Fever had to be shot covertly in Nanjing. Thanks to financial backers from Hong Kong and France, Lou was able to enter the film as a joint Hong-Kong/French production at Cannes, where it competed for the Palme d’Or and came away with best screenplay. Spring Fever has been picked up by both the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and if Apple Trailers haven’t steered me wrong, it will by defying censors to arrive at a theatre near you soon!