|Index||9 reviews in total|
None of the characters is fully developed. Basically, it is three
stories about sex of the three generations, which is very
uncharacteristic in the Chinese culture in the 30s, 60s and 80s as the
film tries to portray, and which, in turn, makes the movie not quite
believable. I grew up in China in from 60's to 80s and yet the stories
are very foreign to me. You can almost feel that the stories are
written by those people living in modern China and trying to fantasize
the lives in China in those years.
The basic setting of this movie has a great potential. This comes to my realization when Hua said to her grandma, "You have lived in you dream for your whole live." They could have developed the stories tighter along this line.
Acting is rather disappointing. I do not see the characters. I merely see those actresses. For example, young Mo has same kind of temper as young Li (as both are played by Zhang Ziyi), and there is no slightest trace of young Mo (Zhang Ziyi) in the older Mo (Joan Chen). In essence, they just play themselves natively, with a minimal level of pretension.
Sets are very unsatisfactory either. Although the color scheme and photography is great and moody, lots of dresses and pops used in the movie are out of their times. For example, the bag Hua carries on her shoulder in the Rail Station when Zou Jie went to college probably did not appear until 90s'. Dresses for young ladies in 60s and 80s are too curvy and revealing in that period of China. There are too many such details to list.
Hou Yong is a famous cinematographer in China who is best known for his
collaborations with Fifth Generation Directors (he himself graduated
from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 as a cinematographer) like Tian
Zhuangzhuang, Wu Ziniu and most notably, Zhang Yimou, with whom he has
collaborated four times. "Jasmine Women" is Hou's second feature as a
director. Like so many Chinese cinematographers (Zhang Yimou, Lü Yue,
Gu Changwei) he has ventured into directing, and here he adapts a novel
by Su Tong ("Raise the Red Lantern").
As the credits rolled out for "Jasmine Women" I found myself looking at the film as a lost chance. Yes, the cinematography of the movie is alluring and the art direction decent, but the movie, story and editing do not strike one as particularly memorable. If you compare this film to that by Gu Changwei done one year later ("Peacock"), "Jasmine Women" would strike you as no more than a passable sophomore effort. The story lacks empathy and development (plot or character-wise) and Hou directs it like a cyclist on a relentless downhill race. The entire movie appears so rushed for time that none of the characters are decently developed, and each scene lasts on the average two minutes. The men are cads or scumbags, and the women are not very sympathetically portrayed either. One can say that Hou's film "lost it" when he casts character actors like Jiang Wen and Lou Ye as heartless, spineless scums. Zhang Ziyi's characters appear unduly spoilt and stubborn, whereas Joan Chen can't do very much with her dual roles as mother/grandmother.
Which brings us to Zhang Ziyi, who can be a very good actress yet seems to be badly directed here. She is asked to carry the whole film on her shoulders in three different roles, yet she fails to do so.
So what remains of "Jasmine Women" is a rather unmoving, uninvolving spectacle of three women going through similar fates as jilted women/women who lose their husbands.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Three women, three generations, three stories, all tragic and doomed.
In each, Zhang Ziyi plays a daughter (Young Mo, Young Li and Young Hua), and in the the third story, she also plays a mother. Joan Chen, with dubious Mandarin pronunciation, plays the Mother Mo, Elder Mo and Elder Li. It's not nearly as confusing (or interesting) as it sounds. It is, in fact, vacuous and tiresome.
The male characters are all no-hopers that either use the daughters or can't get it together enough to do the right thing by them. Men must get pretty tired of seeing themselves portrayed this way, but I don't think many men will voluntarily watch this film, and nor should they. Or anyone else, for that matter.
I have to confess, I don't understand all the fuss about Zhang Ziyi. Undeniably pretty, and pretty darn bendy as well, she unfortunately does not (yet) have the depth required to play three different characters in the same film. These three characters ended up being more like three facets of one character.
There's no compelling reason to see this film. Save those precious 130 minutes and go have some fun instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ziyi Zhang and Joan Chen play a series of mothers and daughters from
the 30's to the 80's. The film follows as daughter falls in love and
becomes pregnant giving birth to the next generation. Its the course of
women in China over 50 years, fighting to find her place before at last
accepting the place she has at last made for herself.
Soapy film based on a novel will depend upon how you feel about the actresses and the soap of the story. If you want to see how good both Zhang and Chen can be see this film. Its a wonderful show case of their talents.I especially loved the screen test scene at the beginning, its a great show case for what Zhang can do. Chen on the other hand is quietly wonderful as the mother/grand mother all through the tale.There is a wonderful strength in her. She makes it look way too easy.
On the other hand the story is very soapy. Its filled with triumph and tragedy, and its clearly constructed to produce a certain effect at the end. reading on the film I found that some people really didn't like the "pulpy" 'soapy" clichéd construction of the plot. personally I saw the soapy clichés coming (I mean the producer discovering the daughter in the hopes of bedding her is as clichéd as they come) but I went with it because the ladies are so radiant.
Sue me I liked it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ziyi Zhang is an amazing actress, conveying so much with a turn of the
head, a shift in that dancer's body, a flash of her eyes. Who can
forget her seething raw power in *Crouching Tiger*, her vindictiveness
in *Hero*, her transcendence in *House of Flying Daggers*, her naïve
cuteness in *The Road Home*? How many other actresses have such range,
can command a scene like she can? If I had to sum it up in one word, it
would be "exquisite."
*Jasmine Women* takes full advantage of Miss Zhang's range. The film is divided into three chapters following a family through the middle part of 20th Century China. Zhang (as well as Joan Chen) each play a different role in the three chapters.
Chapter 1 ("Grandmother"): Zhang plays the part of Mo. The setting is pre-Communist urban China. Western styles are in vogue. Teenage Mo spends her time going to movies, poring through film magazines and dreaming about handsome movie stars. But her mom (Chen) disapproves. One day a movie producer walks in, sees Mo's pretty face, and invites her for a photo shoot. He's suave in his neat western suit and in his ability to speak English. Mother *really* disapproves.
But Mo has stars in her eyes. She ends up with her picture on the cover of a trade magazine and she is set up in a hotel suite. (Mother really, really disapproves.). But, as Mo says, "He's really a nice guy" and he treats her well. So well, in fact, that she ends up pregnant. Mother by this time is apoplectic.
Circumstances find Mo having to fend for herself and so she moves back home. She has to fend off the advances of her lecherous "Uncle Wang," manage to get along with her mother, and learn how to care for her baby.
This is the best of the three chapters. Both Zhang and Chen do a fine job, Zhang as the cute star-struck teenager turned single mother and Chen as the mom who knows best for her daughter but is powerless to force her out of her headstrong ways.
Chapter 2 ("Mother") takes us to a point 18 years later, toward the beginning of Chairman Mao's rise to power. Mo's baby from the first chapter ("Lily") has grown up and is now played by Zhang. The middle-aged Mo is now played by Chen.
Lily attaches herself to an up-and-coming Party member, Jie. All his talk about "the great socialism" and getting the people back to farming for the collective good gives her the dreamy sighs. She takes Jie home to meet her mom and as one would expect, the western- hating young communist and the faded movie star do not get along. Anyway, Lily marries Jie and moves in with his family at a socialist collective.
As one brought up in western/capitalistic ways, Lily's move into the life of a commune worker/wife does not exactly work out. I'm not sure what she thought life on a socialist collective was going to be likeit's not like Jie misled her. It was about this point in the film that things starting ringing a little false with me. We are not given any real reason why she was attracted to this guy in the first place and why she was originally so taken with the socialist movement. Idealism? Rebelling against mom and her outmoded dreams of the past?
Lily soon figures out that she hates her new life. It seems like she is willing to divorce Jie because she dislikes doing the collective laundry. She stomps off back to home. This is where I started paying more attention to "Why is she acting like that? It makes no sense" than to the story itself. Which is too bad, because I really wanted to get caught up in the drama.
Jie actually turns out to be an okay husband, coming back for Lily and even suggesting that they adopt a daughter when it turns out Lily can't get pregnant. As the chapter plays out, however, most other behaviors and scenes seem to be arbitrary and come out of left field. As for Lilywell, the best way to put it is that she goes a bit nutso. This is the weakest of the three chapters, in my opinion.
Chapter 3 ("Daughter") is the story of A Hua, the adopted daughter of Lily and Jie. A Hua is now in her early 20s and is played by Zhang, an interesting choice because A Hua was adopted into the family, thus negating the need for a family resemblance. The one constant is Mo, now at granny age and still played by Chen. Lily and Jie are out of the picture, so the story focuses on the relationship between A Hua and her grandmother. (Anyone with a predilection for the bookish librarian type will really appreciate Miss Zhang in this segment, with her eyeglasses and university student look. I know I did.)
Anyway, A Hua finds a fella, Du. They are in love, and again we are treated to a dinner table scene as a guy is brought home for approval. A Hua and Du get married, there are conflicts--we know the drill by now.
This is a welcome step up from the second chapter, and keeps it up for the most part. Even so, the climax and dénouement come across as arbitrarily drastic and melodramatic, but things end on a life-affirming note. (But would a modern Chinese city gal, nine months pregnant and living alone, really not have a telephone?)
In summary, don't watch Jasmine Women for the story. Instead, relish the performances. Zhang and Chen each has to play several different characters of widely different types and ages, and they do it very well.
And did I mention that Ziyi Zhang is exquisite?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Look deeper and you will find that this film is working on a number of
The first level being the contrast of the personal versus the political (public). As we follow each generation, we see the relationship between the personal lives of these women and how they are impacted by the cultural/political events of the time. While the political events may occasionally seem tacked on, the end result is a subtle analysis of the changing values of Chinese society over the course of fifty turbulent years.
No political or social commentary would be complete without recognition of how such events impact women, especially when they are taken as symbols of social stability itself. The state of women's lives is a direct reflection of the values which are being espoused by the larger society in which they live and breathe. Thus, each generation of women in the film represent, in their character, the norms and standards of their time.
The second level of the film looks at how gender relations have progressed (or regressed) and how gender relations are related to the evolution of a society. The third level of the film takes viewers through the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and how they can never be separated from society at large. Each mother-daughter relationship has its own life and we are shown how values pass (and are altered) from one generation to the next.
The movie begins with a single mother (with a strong, noble, and graceful personality) whose past is not explained to us, though we are led to believe it is unconventional and thereby shameful. Her daughter (Mo) then begins her own unconventional life with a short stint as an actress. The profession of acting is representative of how women of the time were merely viewed as flashy commodities without brains, to be used (or abused). And so we see Mo become entirely swept away by a fantasy life over which she has no control or, more accurately, where control never seems to enter awareness as a real possibility. Therefore, it is unsurprising that until the end of her life, Mo is unable to exercise any real will and is consistently the victim of circumstance and easily overpowered by others.
In the next generation we see a willful daughter (Li) torn between the old China of her mother's generation and the new China of her lover's world during the Communist Revolution. Li is assertive, capable but ultimately confused and unsure of what she wants until she is pushed to the edge. She ultimately succumbs to this unresolved tension which plays out through the development of her mental illness and ultimate disappearance.
In the final chapter of the story, we follow the next daughter (Hua) and her journey to resolve these historical/emotional conflicts. While the first few years of her life were spent happily in a relatively stable family, after her father's suicide and her mother's disappearance, she is raised by her grandmother Mo. This part of the story takes place in the 70s and 80s, a time of great progress for women's rights and causes. Hua is an educated working girl, quite plain and unassuming. She struggles, trying to hold on to the role of a traditional wife, not quite ready for the independence being pushed upon her by society. Her marriage is doomed merely by circumstance and naiveté. She makes the most difficult decision of her life in keeping her child and becoming a single mother. Hua empowers herself by playing games with her soon-to-be ex-husband and learning all she can about pregnancy and motherhood.
The suffering and struggles of previous generations culminate in a rather unrealistic but highly symbolic birthing scene in which Hua gives birth to the next daughter. She decides to move away from the family residence and the camera pans slowly over the shiny new suburbia that China is quickly becoming. The final scene leaves us with Hua finally coming to terms with her past and herself. And so, after much tribulation, a new Woman and a new China is born (hence the title, literally translated as "Jasmine Blossoms").
The script, sometimes long but engaging, is carried quite capably by the principle actors. Sometimes the performances overshadow or distract from the message of the movie but good acting is good acting. Ultimately, this is a film, ambitious and carefully crafted, about the evolution of today's China as embodied in the personal lives of these women who carry within them the collective values of their individual generations.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Zhang Ziyi and Joan Chen give great performances in this unique film
from China. It is about the struggles of three separate generations.
Ziyi plays the younger roles of Mo during the thirties, Young Li in the
sixties, and young Hua in the eighties. Joan Chen plays Mo's mother in
the opening segment, then plays the older Mo for the rest of the film.
The two women play off of each other very well in this. They are
conflicted and are at odds with each other, but at the same time have a
loving bond between them as a mother and daughter would have. The men
in the film play the secondary roles roles very well. Wen Jiang plays
the manipulative Mr. Meng who promises the Young Mo the idealistic
lifestyle of becoming a famous movie star and having a wonderful life.
He impregnates Mo and ends up showing his true colors when the Japanese
invade during the beginning of World War 2. The first third of the
movie ends with young Mo giving birth to her daughter Li. Li grows up
and falls for Zou Jie played by Lu Yi. Zou Jie is a dyed in the wool
Mao supporter. He hates the older Mo because of her love for the movies
and worldly possessions. Mo warns Li that she will be miserable if she
marries Zou Jie. Li's marriage is rocky until they move back in with Mo
and decide to adopt a child and call her Hua. Li eventually loses her
sanity and the marriage ends in a tragic way.
Baby Hua grows up and is played by Ziyi as well. She is educated and she has been raised by her grandmother Mo. Hua secretly marries her boyfriend played by Ye Liu. Ye Liu is like a professional student who does not seem to have found a career path. Hua lives with Mo while he is away in college. Once again there are tragic consequences, but with a twinge of upbeat courage, honor, and simply enduring hardship.
Both Ziyi and Joan are tremendous. I think the film is a tribute to the strength of women. A woman's strength does not come so much from the physical strength, although the Hua character shows some incredible physical strength at the end, but more from the spiritual, mental, and emotional side.
Excellent writing and direction as well. My only complaint was some of the sub titling could have been better.
This is not an action movie, no swords or people flying around, it is a drama, and a very good one. Ziyi has given great dramatic performances in 2046, The Road Home, Purple Butterfly, Memoirs of a Geisha, and now Jasmine Women. She is one of my favorite actresses. Joan Chen really impressed me with her performance. She use to be in the television series Twin Peaks and she proves in this film she is a great actress also.
When i saw the trailers of this movie, i was really excited, because i
thought the story and the general idea of the movie was very unique and
interesting. And after watching the trailer, i definitely put this
movie on my "must watch list"
-Performences By Zhang Ziyi and Joan Chen was definitely strong. Zhang Ziyi definitely proved her acting skills and its range, she can do actions and emotions, and excel at both. and Joan Chen was always famous for her acting skills.
-The movie was very moving and touching. it expressed the struggles of these women well and how they related to one and other in multiple levels.
-The movie left me unsatisfied and a bit confused, all though the acting and the story was good, there was really no point in it. it made me feel like "so...that's it? what now?.."
Over all i enjoyed watching the film, the performances were definitely the best part of the movie.
The literal translation of the title of this movie is: Jasmine blossoms The story is fine, but the setting is rather unsatisfactory, due to the recent rapid development in China: Most of the old building was demolished to make room for the development and as a result, the buildings that were necessary for the particular time segments in this movie are extremely difficult to find. The film makers appeared to lack the financial resource to build a set to duplicate the buildings of past era, and it is very obvious to those who visited Shanghai that although the story was about the nineteen thirties, nineteen sixties, and nineteen eighties, the buildings are those newly built/remodeled in the late nineteen nineties.
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