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Having no other option, Li Xuelian, a poorly educated villager, and her husband Qin Yuhe agree to fake a divorce. However, during the couple's separation, Qin falls in love with another woman--and as if his divorce with Li was real--he decides to move on with his life, leaving the jilted former spouse out in the cold. Under those circumstances and in the dreadful position of being denounced as a Pan Jinlian--a 17th-century Chinese adulteress who conspired with her partner to kill her husband--Li sets off on a legal crusade to clear her name. But even though Li is undoubtedly determined, on the other hand, she is nothing but a small nuisance in a sluggish and bureaucratic system where, sometimes, ants can become elephants. In the end, how long can a single woman hold on against an entire government? Written by
Bingbing Fan is on a quest for justice. She and her husband got a divorce so they could get a better apartment, but after the divorce, he married someone else. So she wants the divorce overturned, so they can be married again, whereupon she will sue for a divorce.
This confuses the local judiciary, the police department and the entire civil government up to the level of provincial governor -- goodness knows, it confused me -- and gets a review at the national level in Beijing, where the decisions are sustained. This happens for ten years in a row, while judges, majors and even governors lose their jobs, because this crazy woman cannot be stopped.
It's a fine satire of the effects of one determined person on a massive bureaucracy, as various people try to deal with her by varying means. While I found several stretches a bit slow, perhaps this is because in the details of general and particular points to make fun of, the particular points of Chinese government elude me. Even with that in mind, there are lots of good laughs, and some interesting playing around with mattes: the provincial scenes are shown through a circular matte, showing off the squarish architecture, and the Beijing scenes are shown through a small, rectangular matte, showing off the round archways. I think this is supposed to emphasize the difference way that local and national governments look at things. If so, it is a very nice conceit.
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