The Equation of Love & Death Zhou Xun, Deng Chao, Zhang Hanyu, Wang Baoqiang, Wang Yanhui Director: Cao Baoping They don't come much quirkier than this tale of a lovelorn cabbie who plies the streets of Kunming less concerned about finding fares than catching a glimpse of her long-lost swain. Director-writer Cao Baoping has crafted an unconventional thriller almost as cryptic as its title, providing Zhou Xun with a fascinating showcase that couldn't be further removed from her glossier 2008 roles in Painted Skin and All About Women. The Chinese title translates as Li Mi's Conjecture, and there's no shortage of matters for driver Li Mi (Zhou Xun) to ponder as her life encounters detour upon detour. The mysterious disappearance of fiance Fang Wen (Deng Chao) has taken over her entire existence. A roadside suicide, two strange passengers (memorably portrayed by Wang Yanhui and Wang Baoqiang), a fraught trip to the Yunnan countryside, and a persistent public security officer (Zhang Hanyu) find themselves intersecting in a manner that eventually brings Li a sense of closure, though not quite the ending she had anticipated. The picture itself seems more a series of detours than a well defined excursion, factors that add to the movie's idiosyncracy. In an apolitical manner, the proceedings shine a light on local notions of 'rule of law' and the huge problems facing the hinterland in bridging the gap between rural poverty and urban prosperity. But what makes The Equation of Love & Death truly memorable is Zhou, deliberately unattractive but undeniably compelling and ultimately poignant.