With World War 2 looming, a prominent family in China must confront the contrasting ideas of traditionalism, communism and Western thinking, while dealing with the most important ideal of all: love and its meaning in society.
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In 1938, Ailian is the forty years old wife of a wealthy man, Mr. Wu, who belongs to the traditional Wu Family in China. In order to get rid off her sexual obligations with her husband, Ailian gives Chiuming, a very young concubine to him. Andre is an American priest and doctor who takes care of an orphanage and becomes the tutor of her eighteen years old son Fengmo Wu. Father Andre starts giving classes to Fengmo, Ailian and Chiuming. Then, two forbidden loves will rise: between the priest and the first wife, and between the son and the concubine, having the invasion of China by the Japanese in a big picture. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The story and set behind Pavilion of Women were grist for a powerful movie. It's about an American priest (Willem Dafoe) running an orphanage in Asia who becomes entangled with a proud Chinese family's tugs of war over love and duty. While Pavilion is engaging enough to keep you awake, it didn't project any of the majesty of greater love-versus-duty romances that come to mind. Its characters cried, but not amid enough conveyed tragedy for its viewers to join in sympathy. Dafoe seemed to absorb his role, but not wholely, for soft-spoken and even-keeled as Dafoe can be, the priest in this movie would have been better portrayed by someone as unknown in the U.S. as the movie's Chinese cast members, whose anonymity aided their credibility and certainly carried the show. There are several wonderfully intense scenes that might even take you back to a love-struck moment in your past. The cinematography gave me pans of the city and garden life now and then, but it left me wishing it had lingered on Asia's beauty and austerity long enough to arouse a connection in me with these people living in 1930s China.
I wouldn't say give it a swerve, because the performances of the local cast was often great. But neither would I recommend making it a late-night movie, if you want to see it before nodding off.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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