The main reason for me to watch this movie only now, some 6 years after its release, is its link to the recent news from China about an abducted kid who reunites with his parents after 24 years! Ever since losing his two years old son to child traffickers, the father Guo Gangtang, spent over two decades, searching for his son on his motorcycle crisscrossing China! His exploits and sheer determination, inspired film makers to make Love and Lost in 2015, with mega star Andy Lau taking on the role of the father. The movie naturally ended with Guo unsuccessful, and still searching for his son, but highlighted that he was instrumental in helping another similarly abducted young man find his parents.
With such a riveting background story, I made an effort to dig up this little known film to find out more about what actually happened. Unfortunately, while I thought the film looked great and was very professionally done, I was disappointed with how the story unfolded. I was hoping to gain some insight on what was the guy’s strategy to look for his son by simply driving around aimlessly. Apparently he helped a number of people unit with their lost children along the way. However, the film chose to focus on just one instance where he was instrumental in helping a young man (played by Boran Jing) who was about the same of his own lost son, find his parents. This young guy appears in his life seemingly out of nowhere and conveniently becomes like his sort of guardian angel when he met with an accident and later had an unpleasant encounter with some fishermen. Together they form a strong bond not unlike that of a father and son, as they ventured together on their road trip in search of their lost family. This relationship felt a bit like a plot device even thought it is supposedly based on a true story.
Most of the time, the Andy Lau character is seen to be just driving through aimlessly without doing much investigative work apart from handing out his flyers to people he meet along the way. Never stopping long enough to even determine if there were any possible links to how his son was abducted. The best tool at his disposal was the internet and the mobile phones as a means of getting his message across to the mass, as well as getting feedback and leads. The inclusion of Sandra Ng as a child trafficker and Tony Leung as a kind hearted cop, were just an excuse to associate some famous names to the project as their characters had little or nothing to do with the main character’s arc. Another subplot involving a mother who lost her baby girl to abductors also seem out of place when that ended in a bad way.
The movie understandably did not have a particularly happy ending. However, it is heartening to know that the happy ending did happen in real life this year. After 24 long years, Guo Gangtang was reunited with his 27 year old son. It was the police who eventually located his son after clues pointed to the suspected whereabouts in central China’s Henan Province this June. Details of how this was possible were not shared. At the end of the day, I found Lost and Love an uneven piece of cinema. While I admire the performances of the cast, and the tone and texture of the film, which made it feel authentic and almost documentary like at times, I felt it failed to effectively address some key elements which I for one, was looking for. It failed to make any strong commentary on why child abduction is so rampant in China, or put a light on how much or little was done by the police to catch these criminals who steal children for a living. It also failed to show how the main character’s action made a difference to the people he met especially those whom he was supposed to have helped find their lost children. Apparently, Guo Gangtang had proactively participated in anti-abduction activities while searching for his own child over the past 24 years, and have constantly fed back information on other abducted children. This admirable self sacrifice and service to the public was never really reflected in the movie. Perhaps in another movie or sequel, these may have been more aptly covered.