“The expat love story gets a film treatment in Lao Wai, a film about East-meets-West love,” writes Global Times.
That’s not supposed to be an endorsement.
Lao Wai tells the story of a French IT engineer in Shanghai who falls in love with a local girl, Mei, and together they test “the limits of love in the face of overwhelming cultural differences.” The film is French director Fabien Gaillard’s full-length feature debut, and it’ll be shown tomorrow at Broadway Cinematheque MOMA.
The potential of Lao Wai is sadly wasted on the very prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes about Western-Chinese relationships that a film of its kind ought to challenge.
The tale in the film centers on the chance meeting of two individuals in Shanghai – a French I.T. engineer named Paul or “Dabao,” played by Gauthier Roubichou, and female Chinese teacher Mei, played by Han Dan Tong.
Together Dabao and Mei experience the highs and lows of an intercultural relationship complicated by conflicting cultural instincts and values.
Though Fabien said the film was made “with Chinese audiences in mind,” the characters often come across as one-dimensional caricatures.
Here’s part of the film’s synopsis on its website:
Set against the backdrop of modern China, “Lao Wai” peels back the abstractions surrounding China’s rise and its people, offering viewer a truer picture of 21st century China. Exploring themes of betrayal and forgiveness, “Lao Wai” is a love-story in a time of globalization.