Stories of adultery always transcend cultural boundaries, and
"Mr. Zhao" is no exception. When the title character, a teacher,
begins an affair with one of his former students, his wife follows
him and discovers the infidelity. Complicating matters, his
mistress reveals that she's carrying his child. Not wanting to sever
responsibility completely for the wife who paid his way through
college and bore him a son, and unwilling to abandon his
mistress, Mr. Zhao is faced with the agony of choosing between
the two women.
This simple premise is the foundation for director Lu Yue's
remarkable drama, during which his extended, static camera
shots establish a feeling of intimacy while they create a nagging
sense of claustrophobia, capturing the actors in flawlessly
performed scenes of domestic longing. And in resisting the use of
music, Lu keeps his story from getting maudlin, heightening its
impact: every awkw.ard pause and stutter is preserved in the
unwavering eye of the camera, which records the heartbreak of
his characters with unfailing emotional truth.
MR. ZHAO is Lu Yue's feature film debut.