Enyou Yang, the child star burns brightest in 2022 Chinese drama ‘Lighting up the Stars’ (original title – Ren sheng da shi), a film about death, grief, family and filial piety. Written and directed by Jiangjiang Liu, the film follows spunky Wu Xiaowen, who stalks funeral director Mo Sanmei (Yilong Zhu) and gang, demanding that they give back her grandmother. Unable to immediately explain the child her grandma is dead, the unruly Mo Sanmei ends up forming an unlikely bond with the girl.
Enyou Yang absolutely lovable as Wu Xiaowen, the little girl adamant on finding her grandmother, who used to be her sole loving guardian. Dressed in a bright yellow-blue shirt and armed with a colorful spear at the beginning of the film, Enyou is mini-Mulan like, the Chinese folk heroine. Yilong Zhu plays lead Mo Sanmei, who is fresh out of prison and not too keen on running his family’s funeral services business. Actors Lu Liu, Ge Wang play Sanmei’s loyal friends Yin Baixue and Wang Jianren, who help him run the business and also support him in all his ridiculous ventures. The movie packs in a lot of Chinese culture and is an interesting look at their funeral rituals, beliefs and practices. There’s this hilarious lavish funeral conducted by Sanmei, where everybody is dressed like they are in a regional Opera, which was visually both bizarre and beautiful to watch.
The mood of the film capricious for most parts, you never know when the mood will change from ridiculously funny to seriously sombre. While some of the emotional scenes were cliched, there are plenty of subtle funny moments which makes ‘Lighting up the Stars’ an entertaining family fare. About two hours long, the runtime of the movie is long enough, yet, the plot moves too fast. From being a hot-headed irresponsible goon-like guy, Mo Sanmei’s character softens too quickly into becoming a dad-like figure to Wu Xiaowen. But the onscreen bond between the lead characters is incredibly sweet, making the transition between ‘strangers to family’ believable.
A twist in the end makes ‘Lighting up the Stars’ unnecessarily emotional, but it’s the kind of conflict that will appeal to a lot of viewers who love some drama in life. Enyou Yang and Yilong Zhu makes the movie worth a watch with their heartfelt performances.
It’s a 7.5/10 from me.
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