Law, Clara

(née Law Cheuk-yiu/Luo Zhuoyao)
b. 1957, Macao
Film director
After graduating from the National Film School in London (1985), Law returned to Hong Kong to become one of the most influential ‘second wave’ directors (together with Wong Kar-wai and others). Her first Hong Kong film, The Other Half & the Other Half (Wo ai taikongren, 1988), also marked the beginning of her collaboration with husband Allen Fong (Fang Yuping). The film’s subject matter, the effect of emigrating to Canada on two Hong Kong yuppies, set the tone for many of Law’s later films, including Farewell China (Ai zai taxiang de jijie, 1990), which follows a young Chinese woman’s descent into madness in New York, and A Floating Life (1996), about a Hong Kong immigrant family’s adjustment to suburban Australia amidst generational conflict. While Law has expressed admiration for Yasujiro Ozu’s ascetic style, much of her own work tends to involve complex scenes. In The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus (Pan Jinlian zhi qianshi jinsheng, 1989), an adaptation of popular writer Li Bihua’s novel of the same title, Law portrays the karmic reappearance of a sixteenth-century novel’s heroine in modern-day Hong Kong. The fantastic story provides an opportunity to comment on Hong Kong’s contemporary identity crisis.
Temptation of a Monk (Youseng, 1993), possibly the director’s best-known film, includes a Fellini-like bacchanal and culminates in a showdown between a female assassin and a general-turned-monk. Law showed her versatility again in The Goddess of 1967, a psychological drama set in Australia, to which Law had emigrated. Among her other films: Fruit Punch (Yes!Yi zu, 1991), Autumn Moon (Qiuyue, 1992), and The Great Conqueror’s Concubine (Xichu bawang, 1994).
Braester, Yomi (1998). ‘Modern Identity and Karmic Retribution in Clara Law’s Reincarnation of Golden Lotus’. Asian Cinema 10.1:58–61.
Louie, Kam (2003). ‘Floating Life: Nostalgia for the Confucian Way in Sydney’. In Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. London: BFI, 97–103.
Millard, Katherine (2001). ‘An Interview with Clara Law’. Senses of Cinema 13 (April-May).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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