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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 »
I'm not entirely sure why I passed on this film when it landed in my city. Perhaps it was a busy schedule or perhaps it was the blatant comparison to the Italian "Cinema Paradiso" in the advertising used for this film.
With all due respect to the "CP", while the two films share an early common thread of a young child with a passion for movies (with a requisite "single mom" in a small town), these two films should not really be compared side by side. The desire and temptation toward comparison would be deceptive and misleading to most expectations of most potential viewers. Indeed, they are very different stories. Nor should "CP" used as a benchmark for all films which have a child character that enjoys going to the movies. Not that it isn't without merit, but, rather, again, this is a different film with a very different feel. The Italian film was meant to have a big emotional bang; this Chinese film, however, goes the restrained route of slow, emotional realization.
We meet our heroine, Ling Ling, as she commits what appears to be an act of senseless violence-- striking a bicycle-riding man on the head with a brick. Then as the wounded victim (Mao Dabing) confronts his assailant we are utterly confounded by her silent, dogged insistence that he go to her apartment and feed her fish-- it is she who should be owing him redress, not vice versa. Dumbfounded, the victim agrees and there begins a journey back into the events that led up to Ling Ling's seemingly incomprehensible action against him. It is this backward shift of gears that forces a discovery of character revelation which goes beyond a simple childhood love of film.
As Dabing sifts through Ling Ling's possessions (most notably her diaries), he comes to learn how life sometimes has a peculiar way of coming full circle; events which may seem random and senseless are not always necessarily what they seem to be. And, in many ways, as the plot unfolds, this is actually a small film about forgiveness and reconciliation. In this respect, it seemed vaguely reminiscent of the Chinese film "Seventeen Years".
Enjoyable little film -- a tale of family, friendship, loss, and reconciliation-- which should be allowed to stand on its own merits and not be unnecessarily thrown into a comparison with other films for the sake of marketing. This a decidedly Chinese film.
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