China, the 1990s. In villages where female babies are drowned, there are few young women to marry the men and bear more sons. Families buy wives - girls lured from the city. Bai finishes college and accepts a job in a remote mountain village harvesting herbs. It's a ruse: she's sold to a peasant family. She's indignant; the parents hold her so the son can rape her. She tries to run away; she's beaten. Other women kidnapped a few years before, now with children, tell her to comply. She continues to try to escape. She writes to her father, smuggling letters to the mailman. She obtains a bit of money. The village is without pity, except for the teacher. Can he help her? Anger mounts. Written by
In the early 90s, a young woman, Bai Xuemei, a recent college graduate, travels to the countryside of rural Shaanxi province believing she is going to start a job selling medicine to rural peasants. After arriving at remote village, she is drugged and awakes to discover her identity papers have been taken and she is the prisoner of her new 'husband', a contemptuous, uneducated peasant who has bought her for 7000 yuan. Bai protests and tries to leave but is forcibly restrained by her new 'family'. In fact, her new husband's parents assist him in restraining her so that she can be raped. Eventually Bai manages to escape her confinement and flees to inform the local police and is brought to the village chief. He, however, won't help her without proof (identity papers) or a refund of the 7000 yuan and returns her to custody of her would-be-husband. Later Bai meets other prisoner wives who share her fate but have long given up their will to escape. Horrified, as the seriousness of her predicament sinks in, she makes more desperate attempts to escape.
Incredibly enough, the film is based on the real stories of women who were enslaved this way in rural China - the demand for wives brought about by the imbalance of male and female children in the countryside. For once an idyllic, isolated rural Chinese village is portrayed as a place of ignorance and malevolence and a place to escape from. Amazing acting from the cast of non-actors who play themselves very convincingly. The only disappointment might be Bai herself who, as a college graduate, doesn't seem to plan her escape attempts very well.
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