Toward the end of Lou Ye's "Summer Palace," Yu Hong (Lei Hao) reflects that her college years were the "most confused" time in her life. A lot of us might feel similarly, but Yu Hong, the beautiful and passionate heroine of this beautiful and passionate film, is something of a special case. "Summer Palace," which was first shown in competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, is remarkable for its candor about politics and sex. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its honesty has not been appreciated by Chinese authorities, who banned Mr. Lou from making movies for five years after he brought it to Cannes without their permission. But the film's ardent, unsentimental embrace of youthful idealism is likely to strike a chord with anyone who can recall -- or imagine -- such feelings overtaking his or her own life. Mr. Lou, however, is not interested only in reconstructing a vanished moment of high, intoxicating promise in his heroine's (and his generation's) youth. He is equally concerned with what comes after, with the drift, disappointment and compromise that seem, for his characters, to constitute both the legacy of Tiananmen and the mundane facts of postgraduate life.
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