Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. 83
    This is a beautiful, moving picture about a love affair between two very different Chinese men.
  2. Reviewed by: David Chute
    The complex narrative counterpoint is anchored by a rock-solid performance by one of the world's great actors, the Beijing theater veteran Hu Jun.
  3. Assured, vital and well wrought, the film is, arguably, the most accomplished work to date from Hong Kong's versatile Stanley Kwan.
  4. It's not often that Chinese cinema tackles same-sex relationships, and rarer still to see a film of such stark, muted emotion coming from mainland China.
  5. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    It's really just old- fashioned melodrama, dressed up with lustrous cinematography and a few nods to history.
  6. It's a good film. But its exotic allure may lead some to mistake it for a great one.
  7. At times too restrained, yet there are moments it captures the erotics of intimacy in a way that makes most American love stories look downright unfree.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    What will really shock Western viewers are the luxurious trappings of Handong's world: The tailored suits, Mercedes Benz and expensive Japanese sushi bars have little to do with age-old perceptions of the PRC.
  9. Reviewed by: Patrick Z. McGavin
    Wong Kar-wai made a much more dynamic film, "Happy Together," five years ago. Lan Yu suffers by comparison.
  10. Reviewed by: Chris Gore
    This delicately observed story, deeply felt and masterfully stylized, is a triumph for its maverick director.
  11. 60
    The connection between Hu and Liu seems more scripted than real, founded on musty allegorical clichés about innocent country folk and corrupt city slickers.
  12. Lan Yu is like a less dizzily gorgeous companion to Mr. Wong's "In the Mood for Love" -- very much a Hong Kong movie despite its mainland setting.
  13. 60
    Filled with sharp observations and interesting, often subtle, bits of visual trickery, much of it evoking the technique of Douglas Sirk's American domestic melodramas. Still, the very simple story seems too simple and the working out of the plot almost arbitrary.
  14. This well-directed Hong Kong drama is at its best when it captures the casual affection that grows between the main characters. It also touches on important Chinese social and political themes, but Kwan understates these so sketchily that they build little psychological power.
  15. With its scenes of full-frontal nudity and its references to the Tiananmen Square protests, Lan Yu may be a breakthrough film for China, but it's well-trod territory for American viewers.
  16. 50
    Deserves high marks for political courage but barely gets by on its artistic merits.
  17. For all of its careful realism, Lan Yu is constructed around clichés, plummeting toward a modestly heroic sacrifice and a tearjerking act of fate. But Kwan is a master of shadow, quietude, and room noise, and Lan Yu is a disarmingly lived-in movie.
  18. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    Might spark controversy in mainland China, not only because it deals with a homosexual relationship between a member of the Chinese establishment and a peasant, but also because it touches on events such as the 1989 massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. However, pic is unlikely to raise eyebrows anywhere else.

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