Lost and Love
Reviewed by Hannah Lau
Lost and Love
Directed by Peng Sanyuan, Huayi Brothers Media
China, 2015, 1 hour and 48 minutes
Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles
Trailer available on YouTube.
Child trafficking is a serious issue in China. Some say as many as 20,000 children a year are abducted; others say 200,000. For obvious reasons, no one will confirm or own up to an exact figure, but it doesn’t matter. The point is, it’s a serious issue.
Child trafficking in China arises from a complex entanglement of social, cultural, and political issues. The former one-child policy could have led parents who have a second child to sell it off. Those who cannot have children may find that buying a child is easier and offers better choices than going through adoption procedures. Traditional culture prefers boys over girls so those who have not born a son will seek alternative solutions. There’s a buyer’s market, and there’s a seller’s market.
In the film, Lost and Love (the Chinese title 失孤, Shi Gu, literally means “Lost Orphan”) writer and director Peng Sanyuan takes viewers on a journey that is both aesthetically breathtaking and emotionally heartbreaking. She enlists the help of award-winning cinematographer, Mark Lee Ping-bing, who convinces you by the end of the film that you haven’t lived until you’ve road-tripped through the mountains of China. While being enthralled with the beauty of China’s landscape, you become emotionally ruined by his portrayal of every parent’s worst nightmare—losing a child.
The film is based on a true story and is told well. It features various perspectives enabling the audience to stand in each character’s shoes. Most prominent is the perspective of the father Lei Zekuan, played by Hong Kong actor Andy Lau, who lost his little boy 17 years ago but has not given up trying to find him even though the boy would be a teenager by now and likely unrecognizable.
Next in prominence is the perspective of an abducted child who is now an adult. The young man, Zeng Shuai, talks about the problems he faces because of his missing past. He doesn’t have proper identification documents, can’t go to school, or apply for a passport. He meets Andy Lau’s character and their two journeys begin to intertwine.
Then there is the mother who lost her child just a few days before and is frantically handing out fliers and stopping strangers to ask for help.
We then follow the child abductor of that lost child as she tries to sell the baby girl to a buyer. The exchange between the abductor and the buyer sheds light on cultural pressures and societal expectations.
The main focus of this film is clearly to raise awareness of child trafficking in China. In doing this, Peng features beautifully the determination that can be found in the human spirit despite pain and loss.
Another focus of this film, though to a lesser degree but also worthy of note, is the strength of the social media network in China and the power of the public behind it. As the two main characters go on the road to look for the young man’s birth parents and other abducted children, they post all the information they find of lost children online and encourage people to share public messages of sightings of the children. Real cases have been solved and children have been reunited with their parents in this way. This is the people of China rallying together against an injustice.
Every message gives a new hope. Lei Zekuan
It’s often said that in the game of numbers, China always wins. Imagine the impact possible when this mass is mobilized towards good, meaningful causes? Yes, China is Communist and yes, free speech is a fuzzy concept. But there is already evidence of the impact China’s masses can have.
Social media provides a place for “outraged netizens" to express themselves. At first, the issues may have been silly things, but increasingly the public is speaking out about serious social issues and injustices—such as trucks running over children and the drivers getting away with it; people falling to their deaths in faulty elevator shafts, corruption, and much more.
WeChat, the leading online platform in China, is home to countless Chinese Christian resources. Every post goes into the community and is accessible by any one of its 936 million users.
The missions movement in China is another example. The growth of the church in China is rapid and unstoppable. Our Chinese brothers and sisters are passionate about going across and beyond China to share the gospel with those who have not yet heard. Imagine the impact on missions if China’s church was fully mobilized!
China has the strength of numbers. This strength can be used for good things, godly things. As we pray for China, ask that this unique strength be wielded as a tool in the Lord’s hand to bring glory to his name.
Image credit: Love and Lost trailer.
Hannah Lau is a marketing consultant for ChinaSource, managing external communication and marketing processes including social media. Originally from Canada, Hannah served for a time in China where she began her career in advertising. A few years ago she left the corporate sector and took her skills to the non-profit... View Full Bio