Feminism or Baiting? Box Office Hit ‘Lost in the Stars’ Sparks Debate

‘Lost in the Stars’ is doing great at the box office — but some audiences are questioning if its apparently feminist themes are anything more than window dressing

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Beatrice Tamagno Headshot
5:34 PM HKT, Fri July 21, 2023 1 mins read

When it appeared in theaters, ‘Lost in the Stars’ by directing duo Rui Cui and Xiang Liu became an immediate box office hit, outperforming every other movie in the world, even though it was only screened in one country.

After its resounding commercial success in China, the film even earned itself U.K. and North American releases — not unheard of, but still relatively rare for Chinese movies.

Despite some good reviews from international critics and a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, its reception in China was not universal. On Douban, a Chinese platform similar to IMDb, the movie is rated 6.4/10, mired in disappointed reviews.

One of the film’s selling points was its female-centric narrative, which revolves around the dangers of unchecked, power-hungry men. On the Douban, users addressed the elephant in the room: is the movie really feminist?

A fast-paced thriller, ‘Lost in the Stars’ is written and produced by hitmaker Chen Sicheng, who rose to fame thanks to the hugely successful ‘Detective Chinatown’ franchise.

Chen has a reputation as a bit of a tacky misogynist, who has leaned on sex appeal to sell tickets. One of the top comments on Douban has amassed over 21,000 likes, and reads

”It's really hard to believe Chen Sicheng’s sudden concern for women,” reads one top comment, with over 21,000 likes.

“After 20 minutes I already knew what was going to happen, the acting was odd and the use of light and sound just reveal how tacky the director's taste is,” the user added. “Baiting on a female-centric narrative didn't really work, and he even tried to profit off LGBTQ+ themes.”

“Why did the director make the girl so stupid, with only love on the brain? It’s just male masturbation,” writes another user.

”I’m so over these male directors and their ‘girls helping girls’ movies,” writes another. “Please just focus on your own issues.”

Cover image via CMC Pictures

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