Happy Times

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Happy Times ★★½ Xingfu Shiguang 2000 (PG)

Underneath this light comedy hides an intimate tale of an aging loser and his unexpected relationship with a young, blind teenager. When Zhao (Bensham) tries to woo plus-sized divorcee (Lihua) by pretending to be a rich hotel owner, she demands that he give her blind stepdaughter Wu Ying (Jie) a job, unaware that Zhao's only experience in hotel management was renting out a dilapidated bus to couples by the hour. With the help of friends, Zhao sets up an elaborate ruse: outfitting an abandoned factory as the “hotel” where Wu, a masseuse, employs her craft on Zhao's friends posing as clients who pay her in phony money. Zhao finds redemption of a sort in the sullen but honest Wu, who in turn blossoms in her new job. Acclaimed Chinese director Yimou elicits excellent performances in his scaled-down allegory. In Mandarin with subtitles. 106m/C VHS, DVD . CH Benshan Zhao, Jie Dong, Xuejian Li, Lifan Dong, Qibin Leng, Biao Fu, Ben Nu; D: Yimou Zhang; W: Giu Zi; C: Hou Yong; M: San Bao.