Controversy swirled around Yu Li's Lost in Beijing prior to it arriving in Berlin, as Chinese censors threatened to block the film from screening unless Li made certain cuts that were crucial to the plot. Of course, said cuts involved removing scenes that shed a negative light on China; like a doctor taking a bribe, prostitution shops and something to do with the heavy sex scenes. Needless to say, the film did make it in and, from what we were told, the version that screened for the press was uncut. Though the finished product was far from risky material (to this American audience member, at least), pic's carefully layered script and outstanding ensemble cast helped rise it above a slew of mediocre fare ... but, it remained hovering beneath fest's best pics.
Sprawling shots of Beijing skyscrapers greet us to open the film; most of them under construction as if to foreshadow the birth of something new. Like a lot of girls her age, Liu Ping Guo (Fan Bingbing) struggles to get by; between her income as a foot masseuse and her husband's (Tong Da Wei) as a high-rise window cleaner, the two can just barely afford a dingy apartment and life's most sacred essentials. For now, their marriage is kept secret -- for Liu could be fired if her boss (Tony Leung, as a multi-millionaire who's married to an elegant woman, yet spends most of his time paying for high-priced prostitutes to visit him in hotel rooms) were to find out she was attached. While no sex takes place at his masseuse parlor, he likes his pack of girls to be young, single and flirty. The more they flirt, the more money comes in.