Thursday, May 1, 2008


Dark Matter (流星)

Dark Matter, photo by Matthew Margolin "Dark Matter" ("流星" USA 2007, 86 min.), staring Liu Ye (刘烨) and Meryl Streep opens on Friday, May 2nd in bay area theaters.

Based on a true event, it tells a compelling story about a bright young graduate student Liu Xing, played by Liu Ye. Liu Xing comes to the US from China to study physics in a university. He believes that America is the land where his talent can be recognized, his dream can be realized, and his scientific ideas can be explored. However, not only he has to struggle to adapt to the reality due to culture clashes, he also has to make sense of the academic world when he conducts his research on "dark matter."

Perhaps due to the fact that director Chen Shi-zheng (陈士爭) is an opera director, the music selections in this film really stand out to me. They are deeply moving and very effective on building up the emotion and add more layers to the story. They also bring nostalgia of the 90s for newly arrived Chinese students in the US.

Besides Meryl Streep always being terrific, the performance from those supporting actors who play Chinese students are very impressive. They vividly portrait those young student's experience living in a culture shock environment.

However, it seems to me that the writer of the film is not very familiar with the scientific subject, in this case, the physics. The dialogue on those subject is very odd. And it will never happen in any department in a university to have a professor arguing with a secretary about a student's academic study.

Also, I don't get the metaphor of the four out of the five elements (wood 木, fire 火, earth 土, metal 金, and water 水) used in the film, with fire (火) is missing.

This film is particularly interesting to me on another personal level. I was actually just 1 hour and half away (driving) when the actual event happened in 1991 (do NOT click on that link BEFORE seeing the movie, because it will contain spoiler). Years later, that event has not been forgotten.

"Dark Matter" was the closing night film at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

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