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In 1971 China, in the lingering grip of the cultural revolution, two university students, Luo and Ma, are sent to a mountain mining village as part of their reeducation duty to purge them of their classical western oriented education. Amid the backbreaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, the two boys find that music, and the presence of the beautiful local young women are the only pleasant things in their miserable life. However, none compare to the young seamstress granddaughter of the local tailor. Stealing a departing student's secret cache of forbidden books of classic western literature such as the works of Honore de Balzac, they set about to woo her and teach her things she had never imagined. In doing so, they start a journey that would profoundly change her perspective on her world and teach the boys about the power of literature and their own ability to change their world in truly revolutionary ways. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Don't be mislead into thinking that a film about the Chinese Cultural Revolution has to be heavy. This one is delightfully light, at times quite funny, but not trivial.
Describing one film review in Hong Kong serves well to describe the film itself. The critic used 90% of the review to say how the film is unrealistic, somewhat over-literary, a bit over-romantic, etc. In the last paragraph, however, despite everything that he said before, he gave the film top rating simply because it was so beautifully made.
The three young people are such a joy to watch. The message I get (which may not be the one intended by the director) is that no matter under what circumstances, youthfulness will prevail. For those who follow the international movie scene, Zhou Xun and Liu Ye wouldn't be total strangers. Chen Kun, the third of the trio, put up an equally sparkling performance. All the supporting roles are great too, and there are quite a few of them.
The scenery is breathtaking and the ending (which of course I won't give away) is very poetic.
It's one of the best, if not the best, "Chinese" film I've ever seen (Chinese in quotes because it's really French, and represents France in the Golden Globe, losing, narrowly I hope, to Almodovar's masterpiece Talk to Her).
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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