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In a beautiful pavilion in 1930's Suzhou. Cui Hua (Rie Miyazawa, 47 Ronin) is a famous songstress courtesan, marrying into the noble house. She develops a dubious relationship with a female cousin of the family and also being admired secretly by her butler. Rong Lan (Joey Wang, A Chinese Ghost Story Series), the cousin, is a modern strict and nice teacher who wants to be independent and serves her country, but when she meets the charismatic Xing Zhi Gang (Daniel Wu, New Police Story), an official from the North, all her plans go astray, But these two women's love bears no fruit with their men and in the end they have only each other to lean on.
Although born a Chinese, I know very little about the famous Kun Opera--Peony Pavilion, which probably represents the consummate achievement of all Kun Operas, but Director Yon Fan had presented it to me so beautifully. This is not a film that tells an exciting story, but with its slow pace, the dream-like color and music, the wonderful acting, Director Yon has introduced us to an artistic world of the old past.
I think Rie Miyazawa's acting was very powerful, and she amazed me by the elegant gravity in her performance and her accuracy in interpreting traditional Chinese culture. All her moves and words are so gracefully slow and inevitably sad, as if she were a woman unintentionally stepping out of the old story told by the opera.
While most Chinese mainland directors are unable to shoot beautiful pictures and those who could shoots beautiful platitudes, I value Yon Fan's ability to present beauty in a gravity inherited from the long and profound Chinese cultural tradition. Thanks to him, I recollected some of my old memories: the beautiful yet somewhat vague image of the artistic past of our people, the age-old but ever-lasting aesthetic value that has influenced our ancestor poets and yet still lives in everyone of us, and about the sweetness of love, and sadness in meditating life, which has been the eternal theme in our poems.
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