‘Lost In Perfection’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Is Lee Dead Or Alive?

Taiwanese films are like a box of chocolate; you never know what you’re gonna get! Lost in Perfection is a slow burner that goes from exploring the latent ennui of a young urban woman stuck in a dead relationship to morphing into a black comedy dealing with an ‘unattractive femme fatale’ and finally turning into a revenge drama. All these segments are so nicely weaved together that uninteresting moments seldom arrive. The film with its three-word title feels like a slightly more accessible cousin of Decision to Leave, with its pacing and exploration of characters, at least in the beginning. It is only later on that the film picks up the pace and plunges us into an absurd plot, which might not be enjoyed by many, but if they can avoid the nitpicking, Lost in Perfection is a tale worthy of being heard.

Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Li Mei had a great career in media, where she got to cover important news and influence the opinion of the public on a great deal of matters. Even the next presidential election campaign was being maneuvered by her as she was giving a platform to a candidate whose close aide, a man named Wu, had approached her to help her with image building. She was soon to be married to a surgeon, and although her mother had passed away, her father was alive and well. She went to the gym and had her pre-wedding photoshoots, but this perfect life was hiding something. Her love life was in shambles. From the outside, one might not see the cracks, but there was a gaping hole that couldn’t be filled, and Li Mei was oblivious to it, perhaps willfully. Her husband-to-be, Ta Wei, was cheating on her, but this was not enough to make her question her life choices. The real cyclone came in the form of Miss Hsiu-Ian Ho, her father’s girlfriend, who would later be dubbed the ‘unattractive femme fatale’.


How Was Ho Connected To The Suicides?

Prosecutor Lee was following up on cases to build his career, and he got one when he found a man dead, which looked like he had committed suicide. This was the third death of this kind where a man had died of charcoal poisoning, and in a way that left little doubt for any interpretation other than suicide. More on Lee’s story later, but meanwhile, Li Mei was given quite a shock by Chih-te, her father, when he introduced her to Ho as his girlfriend with plans to get married soon. Li Mei had an even greater shock later when she identified Ho as the girlfriend of three men who had recently died by suicide. The method- charcoal poisoning. The men had apparently transferred all their savings to Ho, which is how she had afforded the suite in Chih-Te’s building. Li Mei was wary of the woman the first time she met her, and now she went into a full-blown panic for her father’s well-being. The folks at Li Mei’s office were calling Ho all sorts of names and were baffled that she could make three men commit suicide over her.


Why Did Li Mei Want To Hide Ho And Chih-Te’s Relationship?

Li Mei went straight to Ho and asked her if she had anything to do with the suicides, which were slowly being seen as having traces of foul play. Ho did not hold back and told her that all the men were old and that she was trained as a masseuse to fulfill all their needs. She had worked for decades in this field and remained poor, but had gained some key insights about old men. She knew how to care for them, and in turn, they gave her a lot of money. They couldn’t swallow the breakup, though. It was only now that she had so much money. Li Mei labeled her a swindler, but Ho maintained that Chih-Te was ‘the one’. He wasn’t richer than the previous ones anyway. Ho was with him because she truly liked him. Li Mei requested that she at least keep the relationship hidden because she didn’t want her father to be associated with the case in any way. This did not mean Li Mei had accepted Ho to be her stepmother. She wanted her arrested but had to account for Chih-Te’s wishes. He really seemed to have fallen for her, and Li Mei began to wonder if she had used the same tricks on Chih-Te as she had done on other men.


How Did Lee’s Path Intersect With Li Mei’s?

The media was a powerful force to manufacture a consensus, and Lee knew it. The man who died by suicide had come to the police station and said Ho had taken his money, but later rescinded his statement. Lee was onto Ho from that day and had used an inside man in the media to leak the news about Ho and her swindling streak. Li Mei had a junior who worked in social affairs and she got her access to Ho’s suite so that her newspaper could have an exclusive report on Ho’s lifestyle. She worked in the political section and didn’t want to cover this news herself. She saw Lee with the arresting officers when they took Ho away for the charge of murder. She wanted Ho gone from Chih-Te’s life, but that needed Lee, the prosecutor, to have a solid case against Ho. Li Mei offered to help with anything he needed, even to the extent of being totally unethical.


How Did Li Mei Figure Out Lee Was The Killer?

Ho knew that Li Mei had given her fellow journalist access to her suite, and yet when she was granted bail, she didn’t have too many qualms about it. She was happy to be with Chih-Te again and began giving Li Mei some advice that would make her relationship with Ta Wei a lot better. Her advice to not be so stuck up and give free rein to one’s fantasies made Li Mei realize that she was being a little too conservative. The fantasies of being with Lee took over her mind, and she realized she had been smitten with him the day she first saw him.

The meetings with him changed their color and became a lot more romantic, and she didn’t mind Ta Wei being away for long periods of time. She did, however, worry about Chih-Te, but there was a glaringly obvious question that even Lee had not answered. Why would Ho kill the men after they had transferred all their money to her? Lee was of the opinion that she just didn’t want to have any baggage, which is why she cleverly managed to kill the guys and make it look like suicide. Li Mei’s conviction was shaken up by Chih-Te, who claimed he had proof that Ho couldn’t have committed murder. She was at a jewelry shop at the time of the latest suicide/murder, buying a wedding ring. However, Lee said that Ho had told Chih-Te a white lie, as the jewelry store footage was checked and Ho wasn’t there.

Li Mei was forced to give a live interview on national television to clear Chih-Te’s name, as she thought Ho had broken her promise. She had revealed her relationship status with Chih-Te online, but it was only later that Mei figured out that Chih-Te was the one managing her accounts. He had posted the photos about their wedding online to give Ho a chance to be seen as a good woman who had nothing to hide now. But the interview, in which Li Mei described how Ho was trying to murder her father, became so popular that it swayed public opinion, and the collective conscience made the judge give the death penalty to Ho.

This had to be the weakest plot point of the film, but it may be a tongue-in-cheek representation of how courts functions. The court had given bail to Ho earlier, detained her, and finally given her a death sentence with no real addition to the actual evidence. The only thing added was that Ho had sent Chih-Te a package of charcoal, which Lee had traced back to her. Li Mei’s life turned upside down when Chih-Te was found dead, and it seemed he had committed suicide. The method- same old charcoal poisoning. Li Mei resigned from her job and started to stay with Lee more and more. It was only when she saw presidential aide Wu together with prosecutor Lee that a shockwave went through her brain.

Wu had used Li Mei to help cover up the bad press about the presidential candidate. The ‘unattractive femme fatale’ had taken over the news, which had helped Lee move up the ranks and get promoted. After that, Lee got to prosecute the current president’s nephew for insider trading. Li Mei saw a smear campaign from a mile away, and she searched Lee’s computer to find the truth. He had the video, which showed Ho was there at the jewelry store Chih-Te had mentioned. Lee had used the first case against Ho to create a serial killer out of her to secure the rise of his career. Wu was helping him, as he wanted to distract the people from the negative attention the candidate had received some time ago. Now that the duo was done with the unattractive femme fatale narrative, they were running a smear campaign and the nepotism and corruption narrative against the current president. Li Mei went in to meet Ho one final time and asked her if she had provoked Chih-Te in any way to commit suicide, and if not, then why had Lee found a parcel sent by her that contained charcoal? Ho revealed she was part of a Japanese cooking club that used charcoal, and Li Mei went in there to confirm it. Li Mei had been cruelly played. Lee had killed Chih-Te just to keep Ho behind bars so that he could have a successful case under his belt. Wu had manipulated Li Mei into running a dummy case just to distract the public. The duo were pure evil. They had to be eliminated. Li Mei found the perfect plan to do so. She refused to work for Wu in his smear campaign, which in turn didn’t help Lee form strong negative opinions about the current president or his nephew. Lee was being seen as a one-trick pony who could not build a case against the president’s nephew.

During Lost in Perfection‘s ending, Li Mei wrote a suicide note on his computer, erased all the fingerprints, and used charcoal poisoning as her method to make Lee fall asleep forever. She had no pity for him, for she knew how ruthlessly he had killed all those men that Ho had been with, just to have a case to make his career on. When Lee’s death was looked into, there were connections found with Wu that hurt him and his candidate’s presidential campaign. Two years passed, and Li Mei returned to her job. She also saw Ho’s judgment getting overturned. The courts realized that there was no real evidence in her case and no direct motive. As far as Ta Wei was concerned, he wasn’t going to go scot-free for his cheating, though. The final few shots clearly indicate that Li Mei was going to punish him for his infidelity. Li Mei’s old life was gone but she had managed to achieve one thing out of this whole drama: she had gotten out of a neat and clean, picture-perfect life and jumped into the real world, where justice seldom existed and women like Ho would be judged, even if they had crossed hell to reach the ‘perfect’ life.


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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