For no apparent reason, a mute young woman assaults a youth who delivers water on his bicycle, injuring him and ruining his bike. Surprisingly, she asks him to feed her fish while she is in... See full summary »
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For no apparent reason, a mute young woman assaults a youth who delivers water on his bicycle, injuring him and ruining his bike. Surprisingly, she asks him to feed her fish while she is in custody. Her tiny apartment, he discovers, is a shrine to his favorite escape, the movies. He finds her diary - a screenplay of her life built around scenes from favorite films - and it sets off his imagination. Maybe they have more in common than a love of the movies. Written by
Lingling was locked inside the house because her mother wanted her to stay at home and study. She was in her bed looking at a picture, in the first shot, you can see the word "China" on her pillow. When the camera switched the position, the word "china" disappeared on her pillow. She clearly moved her position even though she was supposed to be in the same spot. See more »
Gorgeous and superficial, moving and soulless--and an homage to the silver screen
Electric Shadows (2005)
With sweeping camera-work, beautiful scenery in several locations in China, and a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of two children trying to make their lives make sense amidst lots of upheaval, "Electric Shadows" makes a great first impression. For movie lovers it works intrinsically, and then it adds another compelling layer--the title refers to movies themselves, and there is scene after scene of makeshift outdoor theaters and crowds of people watching domestic films. It's a highly romanticized bowing down to the art form.
It's also an attractive way to see the changing currents in Chinese politics, as seen by the common people in the last forty or so years as the Cultural Revolution went through its paces. The events on and off screen echo, with almost storybook precision, the main moods and events of those times.
I found all of this stunning at first, and then I started to get little hints that it was all a bit obvious, and then, as the plot continued to play with both the troubles of these cute kids growing up and with the changing tastes and types of movies shown, I grew restless and irritated. And to grow irritated at such a finely made love story is troubling all by itself.
The ability to make a superb looking movie these days is within reach of anyone with a budget. There is no sense that it takes a hugely specialized set of talented technicians and actors to pull it off, as was far more true fifty or even thirty years ago. And the down side to that rears its gnarly head here--this is a movie that should have done more and said more.
"Electric Shadows" plays so loosely with clichés of meaning and clichés of beauty, it ends up being the very thing it most wants to avoid. A sensation. A glimmer on a flat screen, an electric shadow. The magic is only in the surface, and the more beautiful and compelling it seems to be the more you want it to dig in and go somewhere with sincerity and depth.
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