On the run from the law, a prostitute (Ruan Ling-Yu) hides in the
hideout of "the boss" (Zhang Zhizhi), a small-frye gambler with
big ambitions and a bigger mouth, and in return, he demands a night with
her. Having little choice, she agrees. The next day already, he moves in
with her and makes himself her pimp.
The woman in question though is
more than just a prostitute, she only sells her body to feed her baby son
and offer him the life she never had. Eventually, she grows tired of the
boss and runs away, but to no avail, she finds her and threatens to sell
her son should she ever try again. He also makes her change her plans of
starting an honest life, simply because she makes more money (for him) as
a streetwalker. However, the woman puts aside a little money each day, to
one day afford her son a better education than she ever had.
passed, and the situation of the woman hasn't improved, but at least she
has saved enough money to pay the tuition of her son's school.
later: The boy's doing very good at school, enjoys it, too, but there are
those parents who are not happy about what his mother does ... and
ultimately complain to the principal. The principal pays our heroine a
visit with the intention of having the boy expelled should he find out his
mother's a prostitute. She admits to everything, but once the principal
learns that she only does what she does to afford her son a better future,
he promise to keep him in school at any cost ... and then he fails,
because the school board decides against him and for expulsion. The
principal decides to quit his job rather than move on as if nothing had
Her son's expulsion leaves our heroine shattered and she
decides to skip town with him for good - when she finds all the money she
hid from the boss for the boy's commission gone. Obviously, "the
boss" has stolen it, to which he freely admits when she faces him,
and he also admits he has already lost it all, with a smirk - upon which
she smashes a bottle over his head, which effectively kills him. She is
arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison - but the principal comes
to visit her and tells her he has personally adopted her son so he could
have the life she always so wanted him to have ...
touching silent drama that manages to get its emotional impact across not
by riding on big emotions and clichés but by telling its story about
social outcasts in a very sympathetic way and with enough subtlety for the
viewer to find one's own emotional link to the characters. And add to this
a very evocative (but by no means ham) performance by Ruan Ling-Yu - and
hey, you've got yourself a pretty powerful movie!