A Scene from ‘Usokoi’ 2001

Faye starred in this Japanese TV drama series. This is arguably her most complete screen performance in terms of a wide range of acting situations. Usokoi demonstrates that Faye is a versatile actor with depth in comedy, romance, action, and drama. (BTW, her song, “Separate Ways,” dominates and sets the tone for the entire series. See the video below.) In her other TV series and films, her roles are narrower, limiting her natural range.

The cinematography, too, is the best I’ve seen in terms of capturing Faye’s range and depth of beauty. The short scenes in this clip — dancing on the beach and deep in the creative process of designing — are just two of many in the series that go far beyond her images in other films.

I believe Faye’s success in Wong Kar Wai’s edgy films, Chungking Express and 2046, was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she got  a lot of attention. On the other, she was typecast as a quirky character, limiting her range of future roles. Her roles in other films were also limiting. In Chinese Odyssey, it was one-dimensional comedy; in Leaving Me, Loving You, the focus was on Leon and Faye’s role was limited to that of girlfriend lost, girlfriend won. In Okinawa Rendezvous, the focus was on Leslie Cheung, and Faye was reduced to his quirky girlfriend.

It’s only in Usokoi that we see Faye shed these molds for the freedom of creating a complete character. It’s too bad that the series was based on an international Japan-China script. These collaborations are interesting, but they’re seldom successful in terms of ratings and dramatic depth.

Faye needs more demanding roles in mainstream Chinese drama series or films. Directors need to let go of the  myth that Faye’s a singer who dabbles in movies. Faye is among the world’s greatest singer. And she is also potentially a great actor with immense range and depth.

“Separate Ways” from Usokoi

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