Directed by Hsin Yin Sung, the Mandarin film “Lost in Perfection” exudes a classic noir vibe with a femme fatale element. Despite some flaws in the storyline, this film delivers pleasure to audiences of the genre, as noir films are scarcely seen nowadays. The film was previously titled ‘Love is a Bitch’ (thankfully, they decided to change the name to something more relevant), which eventually evolved into a female-led psychological thriller. Since the director already had a journalism background, it helped her to craft the screenplay more efficiently, as the lead character in the film is a News TV anchor. In short, if you’re seeking a thriller out there, this is a perfect one-timer.
Lost in Perfection (2023) Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis:
The film starts with our protagonist, Li-mei, conducting a photo shoot in her wedding dress with her fiance, Tai-wei. Li-mei’s father is present there, and while they are taking pictures, Li-mei receives an urgent call from her office, so she leaves. We see how Tai-wei reacts when Li-mei once asks him to stand aside as she wants to click a picture with her father. It doesn’t turn him into a negative character right there. It’s just that he feels distant at times whenever Li-mei prioritizes her father more than him, which is quite often.
Meanwhile, there are multiple cases piling up against a woman named Miss Ho, who is scamming old men into getting huge amounts of money. Prosecutor Guo-lun Lee is investigating the matter. But since the old men willingly give Miss Ho all of their savings, there is not much that he can do. On the other hand, Li-mei meets with the presidential aide Chung-ming Wu and crafts an idea of a campaign to gain public sympathy for President Li-hsiung Ting himself. The paths of Li-mei and prosecutor Guo-lun will soon collide as something vicious is about to take place in Li-mei’s life.
Why do Li-mei and Guo-lun Start Working Together?
Li-mei soon finds out that her father is dating a woman named Miss Ho and wants to stay married to her for the remaining days of his life. Until now Li-mei does not know the ongoing investigation about Miss Ho. Li-mei is also going through a rough patch as her fiance, Tai-Wei, decides to leave her. Soon, one of the victims of Miss Ho kills himself, and charcoal is found beside him. Under suspicion, Miss Ho is arrested, and as she leaves the same building as Li-mei, she now learns the truth about her.
Li-mei calls one of her interns and enters Miss Ho’s house. There Li-mei asks the intern to record the expensive jewelleries and handcrafted goods inside Miss Ho’s apartment so that the police can easily prove her scam. Li-mei even removes some of the books her father gave to Miss Ho so that their name never comes out during this investigation. But, since the prosecution does not have enough evidence to support the crime they think Miss Ho has committed, she soon gets out on bail.
Knowing that Miss Ho, aka Hsiu-lan Ho, can not be arrested only under suspicion, TNN’s newly appointed director Li-mei shakes hands with prosecutor Lee to support him file a strong case against the woman. Li-mei takes it very personally as she does not want her father to be involved with someone who has a criminal record already. Li-mei is so concerned about her own reputation that she becomes blind to see that her father only wants to stay with Miss Ho as she cares for him and her mother, Li-mei’s grandmother.
Anyway, soon they start working together, and from Lee, Li-mei learns that three of Miss Ho’s victims have killed themselves, and all three of them died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by charcoal. Later, using Lee’s intel, Li-mei interviews the families of the victims and, in some cases, the victims themselves. Unbeknownst to Li-mei, she involves herself in something from where there will be no going back, and it will bring out the evil that lurks inside her.
What defense does Miss Ho put around her?
As time progresses, Li-mei tries to do everything in her power to help Prosecutor Lee build a strong case against Miss Ho. One night, Miss Ho visits Li-mei to tell she and her father have already exchanged rings. Miss Ho also explained why her fiance had left her. Li-mei takes this very personally as she thinks of it as a mockery and later asks the intern to edit the interviews in such a way that it will easily frame Miss Ho as the main culprit behind those suicides.
It works in Li-mei’s favor as the police arrest Miss Ho for good this time. However, when questioned about the suicide, Miss Ho asks if her intention was to get their money, and since she already had their money, why kill them? This question remains unsolvable by the prosecution as they do not honestly have any answer for this.
Later, Miss Ho even explains why she has left Shang-wen Li, one of the old men. She says she received money from him for taking good care of him as well as his household. He gave her money out of generosity. Since Shang-wen had health issues, Miss Ho decided to leave him. This turns the judge in favor of Miss Ho as even the prosecutor feels that since she was suffering, it was okay for her to leave the man.
What does Li-mei find out about Prosecutor Lee?
Li-mei’s father has found out a way of proving the innocence of Miss Ho. As the police have mentioned the time of death in the file, Li-mei’s father has discovered a bill from a grocery store that shows 9:05 pm. Later, she visits the jewelry store to buy the wedding ring. Li-mei tries to make her father understand that the verdict is about to come and that it is too late to submit this information. Later, she meets with Chung-ming Wu as he wants to push the ‘Unattractive Femme Fatale’ story, aka Miss Ho’s story, more.
The president’s nephew is under investigation for loitering huge sums of money, and this news is trending at the top. So, if they can push Miss Ho’s story more, people will forget about the nephew’s story easily. However, Li-mei does not want to get involved in the Miss Ho story anymore as she somehow starts to feel sorry for her father. But, later, prosecutor Lee, whom Li-mei currently dates, asks her to take one last step so that his father can be saved from Miss Ho’s obsession.
Li-mei does so and explains on live television how her father was scammed by Miss Ho. This puts the final nail in Miss Ho’s chances of getting out of jail, and the judge orders the death sentence. Knowing that Li-mei’s statement decided Miss Ho’s fate, Li-mei’s father kills himself along with her grandmother. This time, too, charcoal is found beside their bodies, and the cause of death remains the same.
Li-mei decides to resign from the job and receives a PDF from her deputy chief. There, she finds photographs of Chung-ming Wu and Prosecutor Lee talking to each other. This clarifies everything as to why Lee wanted Li-mei to go on TV and put a statement against Miss Ho. Because of this, Miss Ho’s story becomes trending, and the president’s nephew’s case ranked 16th on the list, which means in exchange for Li-mei’s father and grandmother’s lives, Chung-ming secures the President’s position in the upcoming election.
Lost in Perfection (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
What does Li-mei do to Prosecutor Lee?
Knowing about Prosecutor Lee’s involvement, Li-mei decides to live with him for the time being to gather sufficient information to validate her intuition. She goes through Li-mei’s laptop and finds a recording of a meeting between him and Chung-ming where they are discussing making Li-mei speak about Miss Ho’s intentions on television. Later, Li-mei goes to meet Miss Ho in jail and asks her about charcoal. Miss Ho explains that there is a Japanese process of cooking where a special kind of charcoal is used that can be deadly if used in a closed space. Li-mei even enlists herself in the cooking class to understand how charcoal is used.
Later, she finds out the video footage of Miss Ho visiting a grocery store and jewelry shop at the time of the victim’s death. This was already discovered by Li-mei’s father. But when she asked Lee about this, he said that Miss Ho was not found in the footage. Lie after lie leads Li-mei indirectly to destroy the lives of her father, grandmother, and Miss Ho as well. Now, she decides to confront Prosecutor Lee. At first, she tells him that since Lee has no use for her in order to manipulate a story to work in his favor, she decides to break up with him. Later, we see her leave the building.
After that, she bonds with Tai-wei again, and the following morning, she is called for a routine interrogation. The police tell her that some neighbors saw her going into Lee’s house and staying with him for a while. She explains that since she was going through a rough patch and Lee was helping her in that situation, together they dated for a while but there was nothing more. But, in reality, Li-mei had put some sleeping pills into Lee’s food the night he died. Later, she burnt some charcoal and let Lee suffocate to death. She even closed all the gaps in the windows so that there was no chance Lee would be alive.
What happens to Miss Ho?
At the end of “Lost in Perfection,” we see that two years later, Miss Ho is finally released from jail as all the footage is submitted properly, which proves that during the time of death, Miss Ho was not around the victim. So, there is no way she has burnt the charcoal. All three deaths are pronounced suicide as Miss Ho walks free while Li-mei is back as an anchor, only this time, she knows how to get away with murder. Just like she did in Prosecutor Lee’s case. And since Prosecutor Lee is dead, there is no chance for the President’s nephew to survive the case or the President to win the election. All in all, the women win the battle, playing with the overconfidence of men.