Review: 'Lost for Words' could have said more

"Lost for Words" is an unlikely romance set in Hong Kong between an American on an information-technology assignment and a Chinese ballerina newly arrived to join a dance company. Michael (Sean Faris of "Never Back Down") is an ex-Marine who is emotionally preoccupied because of a separation. The virginal Anna (Grace Huang of "The Man With the Iron Fists") is the product of a strict Catholic upbringing.

Even in this megalopolis, the two manage to cross paths three times before their formal introduction. Out of necessity, they become each other's conversation partners, to practice Mandarin and English respectively. What ensues is an old-fashioned courtship rarely seen in popular entertainment nowadays.

It's curious that the only conflict mined from this bicultural relationship is strictly linguistic. Even Anna's concern that her grandfather (Lau Sui-ming) — who fought against Americans in the Korean War — might disapprove of Michael is unfounded. To his credit, director and co-screenwriter Stanley J. Orzel has refrained from using stereotypes to articulate dynamics in multiethnic interactions and from broadly painting Hong Kong as some "Lost in Translation"-type exotic freak show. But the film's colorblindness does not make up for its latent sexism: When Danse Lyonnaise comes knocking, Anna opts to jettison her promising career for Michael. And selfishly, he lets her.

"Lost for Words." MPAA rating: None. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood; AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park


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