Sometimes you really have to question the aim of a film. Inseparable (2011), written and directed by Dayyan Eng and starring Kevin Spacey, Daniel Wu and Beibi Gong, is a case in point.
Li (Wu) is at the end of his tether. Unable to get close to his wife Pang (Gong) – after she suffered a miscarriage – and caught in a moral quandary at work – where doing the right thing will inevitably result in his dismissal – he feels his life is not worth living. As he is in the process of attempting to hang himself he hears a knock at he door. Enter the enigmatic Chuck (Spacey) who makes Li see his situation from a different angle, setting him on a path which may just change the direction of his life for good.
Inseparable is a film which raises a number of perplexing questions, in addition to the one posed in my introduction. Firstly what, if any, is its message. Clearly aiming to tell you that doing the right thing always pays in the end – even if the result is simply that you will feel more comfortable with yourself – this wisdom is so tangled up in the soul searching by the central character of Li that by the final denouement the viewer will most likely have lost interest.
Secondly, why is an actor of Kevin Spacey’s calibre appearing in a film like this. Now you might understand Wu and Gong taking up their roles – though they have starred in a reasonable amount of films between them, their careers so far are unlikely to be setting the acting world alight. Spacey on the other hand, though his style may not be to everyone’s taste, has garnered the praise and respect of the Hollywood establishment, to the extent that you would think he could be a bit more selective in his choice of parts. Clearly he saw this as one of those roles Oscar winning actors take because they ‘want to’ and not because they ‘need to’ ie. for spiritual not monetary gain. But really, short of a free trip to China where it was filmed, one can’t see any reason why he would have wanted to be involved in this aimless production.
Seeing that Inseparable had been on the shelf for a couple of years before it found a distributor, and even then has only been released on DVD, you do begin to question whether there was something wrong with it. If you watch it you may understand what that something was.