|aka Happy Times Hotel|
The best thing about the film is the tentative and tender bond that develops between Zhao and Wu, which is very nicely played out and cleverly shaded in various ways. These two discover an unusual and unexpected happiness together in a tentative uncle-niece sort of relationship. And while the understatement is somewhat refreshing, it's also thin and underdeveloped. And more than a little unbelievable, especially as it rolls toward a conclusion that is horribly bleak and at the same time far too schmaltzy and sweet. Meanwhile, the filmmaking itself is simplistic and extremely basic, rarely offering insight into the characters or adding depth to the situations. There are all kinds of interesting themes at work here, but they seem only partially developed, which at times is nice as it lets us work out the things for ourselves and apply them to our own cultural background. On the other hand, it tells us very little about the characters themselves, their society or their relationships. So while the film does touch us lightly with its emotional resonance, it also leaves us out in the cold.
dir Zhang Yimou|
scr Gui Zi
with Zhao Benshan, Dong Jie, Dong Lihua, Fu Biao, Li Xuejian, Leng Qibin, Niu Ben, Gong Jinghua, Zhang Hongjie, Zhao Bingkun
Wicked stepmother. What Zhao sees in her is anyone's guess (Dong Lihua and Zhao Benshan)...
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