Stolen Life is a sneaky exploitation film which preaches against men, but goes much further than just telling a story to get the message across.
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The film revolves around Yan’ni, a young, naive girl who lives with her aunt and grandmother. Her mother left her to live with relatives long ago. Now that she is a vibrant teenager, her hopes and dreams are set on going to college to get an education. After getting accepted to a nearby university, she moves onto campus, but is very much alone.
Her only friend is young Muyu, a boy that she met while moving, and who quickly expressed his ever-dying love to her. They start dating, and he promises her the world. But as soon as the two make love, Muyu disappears. Yan’ni tracks him down, only to find that he is involved with another women who has his child. He tells Yan’ni that he really wants to be with her, which she believes, and stupidly moves in with him.
Their lives quickly goes to hell when Yan’ni becomes pregnant, has to quit school, and Muyu is fired from his job. She wants an abortion, but he convinces her to keep the child because it a “symbol of their love.” After the baby is born, Yan’ni decides that she wants to keep it; after all, she knows how it feels to be abandoned. But Muyu has sold the baby to another couple without her consent, so they lose the child. She then discovers that Muyu has done this before, and is currently doing the same thing to another woman.
But it isn’t the intention of writer Liao Yimei to limit the wicked habits of Muyu to th character, but rather to inform us that men in the real world are like this. After Yan’ni finds Muyu’s dastardly secret, he’s almost surprised by her anger, saying “This is the way things are!” Men hooking up with multiple women, getting them pregnant, then selling the child is the way things are?
Since this is the first psycho polygamy-baby selling case I’ve personally run into, I don’t think that specifically was what Yimei was trying to say. Perhaps simply that in the real world, men can be ruthless. The film includes this same message throughout, making us pity our protagonist and feel contempt for the men ruining her life. All the female characters in Yan’ni’s life are presented positively, while the male characters appear to be out to destroy her. We even learn details about her mother, who’s story resembles her daughter’s.
Its not until the end of the film, when Yan’ni actually looks directly into the camera and gives her warning to the audience, that Yimei’s message is directly presented to us.