In this scene, Li goes to the hospital where Qiao Qiao is being kept so that he can see her. However, he looks through a photo book beside her bed stumbling upon photos of her during chemotherapy and consequently leaves before she wakes up. He begins to cry and walks back to his car, so that he can return home but instead finds a crowd waiting for him to move his car. It is in these two moments, that the emotions described the five stages of grief come to life in A Wedding Invitation. In this scene, Li comes to the realization that Qiao Qiao is going to die and the emotional realization of death is explored by Oh. Li’s emotional transitions from isolation to depression in the first half of the scene and from depression to acceptance in the second half of the scene follows the progression of the five stages of grief.
The scene starts when Li enters the hospital room that Qiao Qiao is being kept in. Ironically, he is completely dark when he enters the room, mimicking his ignorance as he has been “kept in the dark,” but more light is directed towards him once he enters the room. Once the first eye line shot shows Qiao Qiao’s face, a non-diagetic piece of music begins with a wide range of notes indicating the flux of emotions that Li is feeling as he sees her in hospital attire. After he has opened the photo book, the music becomes louder and features mainly violins, but it also gives the scene a much more dark and depressing tone. As he is looking through the photo book, reaction shots show Li’s sadness and guilt.
Oh uses numerous techniques in order to emphasize the theme of grief in the second half of the scene as well. First and foremost, a sad non-diagetic piece of music is playing that has carried over from the previous half of the scene where Li visits Qiao Qiao at the hospital, serving to connect the two scenes emotionally. This music in particular, creates a heavy emotional overtone and very much resembles Li’s emotions at this time. It is comprised mainly of violins and the music itself is tumultuous but downbeat at the same time. At the end of the scene, it takes on a much more comforting tone as bells come in while Li Xing collapses to the ground at the end of the scene.
As he leaves the hospital, Li is quickly oriented within the shot since his car is creating a traffic jam outside of the hospital where Qiao Qiao is being cared for. It does more than orientate the scene though; it symbolizes Li’s own “mental street,” or his thought process, at this moment. He has stopped thinking, and only has Qiao Qiao on his mind as the world around him continues to move on. It is clear that Li is grieving and trying cope with the imminent death of his future wife. One way he seems to do this, is by asking the bystanders to hit him. It seems odd at first; but it is to mirror the pain that Qiao Qiao has gone through and represents Li’s yearning for punishment out of grief and guilt.
Li’s emotions are also emphasized with lighting and camera techniques. During the entire scene, tears are highlighted on Li’s face as Oh uses a close shot to blow up Li’s face and the high key lighting reflecting off of his tears contrasts against the darkness of the night. The close shot also makes it clear how Li is feeling, as his face, its contractions, and the emotions associated with them are the only image in the frame. Blood is also highlighted in the corners of his mouth since he asked the bystanders earlier in the scene to hit him symbolic of self-inflicted pain. As the scene ends, it becomes clear that Oh was using a handheld shot. The shaking of the camera in contrast to a normal shot helps embody the emotional instability of Li throughout the scene as he stops to realize his grief.
A Wedding Invitation shows the emotional transition of Li from isolation, to depression, and lastly to acceptance. At first, Li is unaware that Qiao Qiao has had stomach cancer for the past five years until he talks to Mao Mao and then goes to the hospital. After seeing her, Li moves into the depression stage composed of regret and sadness. It is when Li finally as he falls to the ground next to his car, that he has accepted the fact that Qiao Qiao is going to die. Therefore, this scene reflects the concept of the five stages of grief as exemplified by Li.