London-based Emily Wang gained minor notoriety from her VJ-ing on cable television. She is now more renowned for being the longtime girlfriend and pseudo manager of rock musician Lee Hauser, who seems to be on the brink of stardom. Those that know the couple believe she is a bad influence on him, and is the reason why he is a junkie. After Lee dies from an accidental heroin overdose and Emily is imprisoned for six months on possession charges, she learns that the courts have awarded custody of their young adolescent son, Jay, to Lee's aging parents, Albrecht and Rosemary Hauser, who live in Vancouver. A concerned Albrecht asks that she not attempt to see Jay for at least two years while she cleans up her act so as to give Jay a fighting chance at a decent life. Emily initially agrees, knowing that she is in no position to look after Jay. To regain her life, she decides to move back to her old stomping grounds of Paris. As Emily tries mostly unsuccessfully to become clean while eking ...Written by
So what does it take to win at the Cannes Film Festival? Well, Maggie Cheung pulled out all the stops for her win in 2004 in a moving film directed by her ex-husband Olivier Assayas.
Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung), a junkie ex-VJ, struggles in life after her husband, a famed yet ageing rocker whose career is in decline, dies after a heroin overdose on the drugs she had bought him. After serving six months in jail for possession, she finds her son, Jay (James Dennis) is put into the care of her parents in law, Albrecht (Nick Nolte) and Rosemary (Martha Henry). Knowing that the only way to see her son again is to clean herself up, Emily moves to Paris to rebuild her life, seeking help from long forgotten contacts. Meanwhile Albrecht begins to have a change in heart when he realises that Rosemary is dying.
Maggie Cheung's performance isn't easy to match with superlatives. Mastering dialogue in Cantonese, English and French, as well as singing the title track - she, unlike many HK actors, hasn't launched a singing career - it feels as much an honest, raw portrayal of Emily's character and her struggles to deal with the twists presented to her. Whilst Cheung and Assayas may have split amicably years before, I can't help but feel that their own history must have played a part in the making of this film, and if so, they used it well for the benefit of the film. Which is just as well, as I felt the overall script wasn't as impactful as it could be, particularly given Cheung's performance.
Nick Nolte's role is fairly limited. It's strange seeing him now as a grandfather, but he does it well - will we see a change in direction from him? This is a good film, and we will look back on it one day in an awards ceremony and say this is the one movie that exemplifies all of Maggie Cheung's achievements in one film.
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