The young adult life of Hong Yunsheng, nicknamed Little Brother, is seen as somewhat of a failure by those that know him. A Chinese national, he stowed away on a boat to the United States, ... See full summary »
Brothers Seth and Zak, 15 and 13 & 3/4 are spending the summer in their deceased grandfather's house, waiting in vain for their mother, who is otherwise busy, and running low on cash. To ... See full summary »
The river Suzhou that flows through Shanghai is a reservoir of filth, chaos and poverty, but also a meeting place for memories and secrets. Lou Ye, who spent his youth on the banks of the ... See full summary »
Country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure. Enraptured, ... See full summary »
Wu Hongyan is a young woman working as a prison guard during executions of female convicts. She feels lonely after her husband died, and she takes a night train to another city to visit a ... See full summary »
Two young farm workers, who like millions of others, leave their village to seek their fortunes in the city. Each chose a vastly different path to make it and become embroiled in ... See full summary »
Little pocket thief Wu never got away from the streets like his friends did. He realises that he is alone, as his old buddy doesn't invite him for his wedding. When he falls in love with a ... See full summary »
The story begins on a bus, when white-collar worker Ye refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen. Her defiance is videotaped by a journalist intern and played during a news show. The ... See full summary »
Hired to spy on a philandering husband, Luo Haitao soon becomes entangled in a clandestine affair with the other man. Along with Luo's girlfriend, they succumb to the delirium of drunken nights, but how long can their tryst last?
The Chinese title translates literally as "Me, 11" which could be translated as "I Am 11" or "Me at 11". The French and English titles could be interpreted as "Flowering at age 11", a reference to its being a coming-of-age story. See more »
Rape, murder, betrayal and the cultural revolution
It is not untrue to say this film is about rape, murder and betrayal. But this could lead to the wrong conclusion. Eleven flowers is a very subdued, subtle movie in which no violence is shown at all. As in many Chinese films, not much is shown, but a great deal is implied.
The story is about 11-year old Wang Han, who accidentally encounters a murderer who has taken revenge for the rape of his 16-year old sister, a girl the boy secretly fancies. The murder is the talk of the town in the rural community, and leads to some unexpected developments.
But the murder story is only a vehicle for the director. He uses it to tell two other stories: the friendship between Wang Han and his school buddies, and the impact of the cultural revolution on the daily life of the ordinary Chinese in 1975.
The cultural revolution, a euphemism for the ruthless oppression by Mao Zedong, is the backdrop for the story. Already in one of the first scenes it becomes clear what the director wants to tell us. 'Why don't you work in the factory, like mother', the boy asks his father who leaves for work on Monday, only to return on Friday. 'Because we are not allowed to choose our own occupation', he tells his son. 'That's why I want you to become a painter. That way, you can really be free'.
One of the most dramatic scenes is the boy witnessing his father coming home, bleeding from his head. Against his will, the father got involved in a fight between the Red Guards en the conservatives, because he wanted to help an old man whose leg was broken by the Red Guards. It shows how devoid of any morality this regime was.
But there are also many light-hearted scenes in the film. One of the funnier ones is the boy's mother showing his stained underwear to his father. 'He is early, just like I was', says his father cheerfully, pinching his wife's bottom.
It is interesting to compare this film to 'Under the hawthorn tree', the recent film by Zhang Yimou which explores the same theme of everyday life against the backdrop of the cultural revolution. The difference is that Zhang made a love story and Wang a coming-of-age story. But the attention to small detail, the subdued way of storytelling and the focus on everyday life are quite similar. I liked Zhang's film better than Wang's, because the latter is sometimes a bit slow.
At the moment of writing, this film has been rated by 149 IMDb-users, which is an extremely low figure. Apparently, the film has only been released in France (which co-produced), the Netherlands and Belgium. It deserves a larger audience.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?