Film Review – Happy Times
Happy Times (or Xingfu Shiguang) is a Chinese film about an aging bachelor, Zhao, who’s pretty much desperate to find a wife to take care of him in his old age. He meets up with this rather rotund lady who seems all sweet and jolly and they talk about getting married. Zhao goes over to her house and the façade starts to crumble a little bit with the lady, due to the way she treats her equally rotund kid and this blind girl who the lady has locked in her room most of the day.
Zhao is working with a friend to set up what I will simply call a “sex bus” – it’s an abandoned bus in a public park that they have fixed up so people can pay them to have sex inside. Zhao convinces the lady that he’s in the hotel business and she comes up with the brilliant idea of having the blind girl work for Zhao at the hotel. When he takes her to the bus, it’s being removed and he tells the blind girl that they’re doing renovations. During this time, there are some sensitive moments when Zhao begins to realize the girl isn’t happy in the home.
He solicits the help of his friends to build a fake massage parlor (a legit one) so the girl can work during the day. Zhao’s friends all pitch in an set up a fake room with fake street noise and fake customers, until they all go broke paying this young girl tips for the massages. The girl figures it all out but plays along with when she realizes what Zhao has gone through to make sure she’s taken care of. Zhao meanwhile tries to maintain contact with the less- and less-friendly Rubenesque woman and when they eventually meet up, she’s already found another guy to marry who does have money. She ends up being a really nasty person and it’s unfortunate, since I really liked her at the beginning of the movie.
The film is amazingly touching. The characters are very well portrayed, and not just the main characters – the friends of Zhao are also super cute and helpful and will do anything for Zhao or this girl. Zhao is just a cute old man who gets taken advantage of, but he’s really trying to make things work – for the woman at first, and then for the young girl he’s taken under his wing. I would recommend the heck out of this movie, but it’s not all flowers and rainbows. It’s really dark and doesn’t end up in a happy place. As long as you’re ok with that, I really think you’ll like it. It’s very well written, shot, and acted. What’s not to like?
(4 out of 5 fus)