Title: Lost for Words
Fabrication Films/ Studio Strada
Director: Stanley J. Orzel
Screenwriter: Stanley J. Orzel, Joseph Bendy
Cast: Sean Faris, Grace Huang, Joman Chiang, Will Yun Lee
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 10/11/13
Opens: October 18, 2013
While auditioning for a solo role in a Hong Kong ballet production, the artistic director describes Kim, another dancer’s audition as “Adequate”, but is chosen because the instructor, who has a romantic interest in the dancer, supports her. “Adequate” is the best word to describe Stanley J. Orezel’s movie “Lost for Words,” a painfully slow-moving romantic drama about star-crossed lovers. The male lead, Michael, played by Sean Faris, is star-crossed (if you will) with Anna, the former en ex-marine from L.A. hired by a Hong Kong-based company, while Anna comes from a village in southern China who studied dance in Beijing and is hired by a Hong Kong company ultimately to perform a solo piece. Caucasian American and Chinese dancer meet cute while jogging, their romance developing leisurely, but the best part of the film is the stunning views of Hong Kong, which until the recent decade or so stood out distinctly from the mainland for its modern skyscrapers. “Lost for Words” might serve as free publicity for that city’s tourism department. As for Michael and Anna’s courtship, however, the film lacks the usual conflict we find in the romantic formula boy chases girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl.
The closest we get to conflict is Anna’s own hesitation in moving forward with Michael since she is an observant Catholic, a member of one of China’s registered minorities, and is a virgin who believes that one must love a man before “giving in” to his lusts. He is fortunately patient, though he appears to shoulder more stress because of his break-up with a girlfriend back home than he must have had in serving his country.
Mei Mie (Joman Chiang) provides some comic relief as Anna’s best friend, a woman who unlike the ballerina is a free spirit who has no problem expressing herself when she sees a man who is “hot,” and who does not believe that love must precede sex. “Love is love. Sex is sex.” Amen.
We in the audience do wonder why Michael winds up incarcerated on the mainland, a scene which opens the story which then flashes back several months to answer our queries. The thirty-two year old Sean Faris resembles a young Tom Cruise but comes across as timid where Mr. Cruise is extroverted. As a fish out of water, Faris enjoys looking up Chinese words on his computer but especially appreciates the lessons he gets in that difficult language from Anna. When Michael gets together with Anna’s grandfather, who presumably must give his blessing to any thoughts of marriage, the older man, patch over one eye from a mortar he received during the Korean War, must get over any animosity he may feel for the fella whose father fought in Vietnam and grandfather in Korea.
Will they get ultimately get together, two people from opposite ends of the world? They make a lovely couple. We certainly hope so.
Unrated. 107 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C+
Acting – B-
Technical – B
Overall – B-