Impossible film due to leaving too many unknowns. Not recommended, in spite of high praises elsewhere
I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. I had expected much of it, given the announcement text as published by the festival. On the other hand, some earlier reviews on the festival website carried some warning signs. But I had already booked tickets, so... After all, the negative comments were right to the point, and I can only add extra complaints.
Firstly, the Egg and Stone symbolism is not only prominent in the title, but we see actual eggs and stones appear multiple times. I could not make anything comprehensible out of it, other than eggs standing for new life. But new life was not welcome in this story, so what else could it mean?? And still, what about the stones?? The explanation from the director in the final Q&A only made it worse. She "explained" (mind the quotes) that eggs are soft and stones are hard, and that our growing experiences make us either soft or hard. But whatever you become, it is life anyway.
Secondly, the unknown father of the unborn child could not be derived from any clue offered to us. In the final Q&A we heard from the director that it was "obvious" (mind the quotes, again) that the uncle/doctor was the father. That no one took the trouble to tell us, being unprepared viewers, seemed also logical: in a small village this is usually a secret, and no one talks about in the open. The only possible clue might be the question when the uncle visits the girl when resting after the abortion: "Are you cleaned up now?", this being not a very nice question to ask under given circumstances.
Thirdly, during the final Q&A we learned that the director had been sexually assaulted when she was young, that being all the incentives she needed to make this film. This is (again) information in hindsight that could also be told at some appropriate moment in the story. How could we know?? Maybe the opening scene with much banging on the door of the girl's room, contained a hint that the unborn child came forth out of sex abuse??
Lastly, why have all women in this film such nasty, penetrating voices??
The only moment that I could detect a spark of an interesting scene, was when some Sutra verses were read for the grandmother, and especially the explanation by the grandmother what it meant. Alas, this line of thought died immediately after. The well known Chinese bias about boys versus girls is not new, even for us living far away in Europe. This film does not add anything useful, neither an explanation nor a new insight. Also, that the story was told from the viewpoint of the pregnant girl, was no reason to setup the script as done here, and it was no novel idea either.
All in all, I could only give the lowest score for the audience award when leaving the theater. I cannot care less for film makers who withhold us viewers all the necessary information, and then flatly tell us afterwards that all the clues were obvious for anyone to see. I don't consider myself stupid. It rather is an example of bad film making, only understandable for an in-crowd, not something a professional film maker should be proud of.
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