Synopsis by Mark Deming
Stanley Kwan, one of Hong Kong's few openly gay filmmakers, directed this drama that blends a same-sex love story into a tableau of China's tumultuous recent history. In 1988, Lan Yu (Liu Ye) is a college student from rural China who has just arrived in Beijing, where he intends to pursue his studies -- and where he begins to acknowledge his sexual leanings. While visiting a gay bar, Lan Yu meets Handong (Hu Jan), a successful businessman whose father is an important Communist Party official. Handong finds Lan Yu attractive and they begin an affair, but while this marks Lan Yu's first significant relationship with another man, Handong thinks little of it and soon takes up with another handsome student. Lan Yu is crushed by Handong's infidelity and breaks off their relationship, but several months later, Handong discovers Lan Yu is one of the students demonstrating against the Communist leadership in Tiananmen Square. Worried after the student massacre by Chinese troops, Handong tracks down Lan Yu and discovers he survived the attack. Lan Yu and Handong soon pick up their relationship where they left off, but Handong is afraid that if his sexual orientation becomes public knowledge, it will ruin his business, so he breaks off with Lan Yu and marries a woman in a failed bid to become more "respectable." Lan Yu is based on a Chinese erotic novel known as Beijing Story, which circulated on the Internet with authorship credited to "Beijing Comrade."
homosexual, political-unrest, break-up [romantic], entrepreneur, middle-age, boyfriend