Director: Wang Xiaoshuai
Cast: Gao Yuanyuan, Li Bin, Wang Xueyang, Qing Hong, Yan Anlian, Tang Yang
At Cannes Film Festival 2005, it won the Prix du Jury !
The movie tells the story of a 19 year old girl who had a strict father who dreamed of returning to Shanghai because that was where he believed his children would benefit. He reluctantly went to Guizhou under his wifes persuasion, but he had always felt that he belonged to Shanghai but did his daughter think so? In the 1960s, a lot of families had moved from the large cities to help develop the poorer regions of the country as well as form a third line of defense.
What I like
-- Definitely the written dialogue for the parents. The way the parents reasoned and rationalized with their children really transported me back to those younger days of how typical Asian parents used to educate their kids (at least in the past, say in the 60s 70s) The parents firmly believed that it was the best for their children and they liked to say, I would rather you hate me now than to let you regret later in life How familiar?!
-- At the end of the movie, it was for the audience to decide whether the plight of the female protagonist was indeed her dads fault (for being too strict), her own fault (for being too conforming) or that of times
-- Although at first glance, many would dismiss the novelty of the theme (i.e., another movie about generation gap where parents and children did not meet eye to eye) I thought there slightly more to the movie
e.g., it probed at belonging (where you are born or where you live? is it your house/family or a haven outside)
e.g., it challenged issues of choice and helplessness (of the parents and also of the children) (do we always have a choice in life? Is conformity wise or defiance better?)
e.g., it wondered about dreams (the parents or the childrens?)
e.g., it reiterated the issues of stereotypes (the city dwellers and the rural people; good influence and bad influence; etc)
-- Technicalities of the movie there are lots of attention to details
e.g., cinematography and lightings the exteriors (also, the outside world) were always brighter than the interiors (also, the present situation)
e.g., sounds most are simply that of Guizhous monotonous/boring daily sounds until the last 3 gun bangs that shattered the silence to signify a new era and a new beginning
-- I also like the ensemble cast, in particular the parents and her lover (albeit few scenes)
What I thought could be better
-- The movie is pretty slow paced at times, one wonders if it could be faster
-- Mentioned above, it could be easily dismissed as one of the overdone generation gap Hollywood movies but there is something more (or am I crediting the director too much?!) although much has to be inferred or would be feel by those who have gone through similar situations
-- * MAJOR SPOILER *
At the end of the movie, it was unclear if the female protagonist still liked her lover. I would think so, or at least a mixed emotion Also, when she finally broke down and attempted suicide, it was unclear whether she broke down because she was raped, or because her parents chose to charge her lover with rape, or simply both. I believe different audience would interpret it differently (is this good or bad? Ha ha ha)
* END OF SPOILER *
I recommend the movie only if
-- you like art film and want to reminisce about those old (or younger) days
-- you like to understand how many (not all) (Asian or strict) parents (at least in the past) used to educate or rationalize with their children
I think it is a divisive film whereby you will either like it or simply dismiss it as another overdone film about generation gap
The original title was I am 19. However, as the director did not want the audience to harp on the fact that the actor and actress may not be 19, he amended the title. The new title Qing Hong is simply the name of the female protagonist in the movie.