Liyan and Yuwen live in post-war torpor, childless but with Liyan's school-aged sister. He coughs, imagining he has TB; Yuwan embroiders; they sleep in separate rooms. A surprise visit from...
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Liyan and Yuwen live in post-war torpor, childless but with Liyan's school-aged sister. He coughs, imagining he has TB; Yuwan embroiders; they sleep in separate rooms. A surprise visit from Liyan's boyhood friend Zhang, a big city physician, wakes up the household. To Zhang's amazement, he discovers his friend's wife is his own youthful sweetheart. Possibilities abound: an affair, an arranged marriage of Zhang and Little Sister, now 16, or simply ending ennui and embracing vitality. Can a stifling atmosphere of Chinese Chekhov give way to spring? Alcohol at a birthday party speeds resolution. Written by
This a love story of sorts set in the 1940's in post-war China. It is a love triangle or a love quadrangle, depending if you include the 16-year-old young lady who was yet to know love at her age, or was about to.
The story is fairly typical: a loveless marriage, probably sexless due to the husband's ill health, but a marriage nevertheless with the wife doing her best to look after her ailing husband. Then an old lover showed up to create turmoil in their otherwise peaceful, though probably unhappy, lives.
I find the acting a bit green at places. The pace was slow. But the setting, both indoor and outdoor, was visually beautiful and the story, told in an unhurried fashioned, engaging. There are no bad guys here. And yet grief and unhappiness prevailed simply because things just happened that way. And changes were simply out of the question because they lived in an era where people were bound by certain moral obligations.
This film demands patience, but is one that engages. Director Tian has told a common love story well.
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