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He ni zai yi qi (2002)
Chinese experience of love between father and son
Human feelings are universal whether you are a Chinese living in a crowded and vulgar country village or an American living in a comfortable and affluent suburban neighborhood. However, the experiences are different enough that there are subtleties in this Chinese film that only Chinese can truly appreciate.
I never wrote an online comment of a film before even though I have read a great deal. Unlike most of other films, comments on Chen Kaige's "together" is surprisingly divided into two extremes: love it or hate it. Maybe this observation prompted me to write something to express my feelings during and after watching this film.
I grew up in a small town in rural China, very much like the one shown in the film. My father isn't a "vulgar" peasant as the father in the film, and I wasn't a "prodigy" of anything by any measures either. The kind of strong character and sensitivity the kid showed is something I wish I had when I was a teenager. The incredible sacrifice and love the father showed in the film is also a bit surreal to me. In other words, my experience is much more real with little melodrama involved.
However, the film actually made me cry when sitting in the cinema, not just because of the melodrama and the music, more so because it made me miss my own father and remember many small moments between us that are not so much drama but only our daily experiences.
When I left cinema, I overheard a middle-aged American white couple in front of me making comments: "a cute little film, isn't it?" I can tell from the dialogue that they experienced different things when watching the film because they appreciate the details of ordinary Chinese life such as how the coal is used for heating tea. To me, those details are not novelties to appreciate, they WERE my existence and everyday experiences.
I will stop here not to violate the IMDB guideline. After all, everyone's experience is unique. Everyone has their ethos deep from their upbringing and culture. I am just glad that this film brings me a Chinese experience of love between a father and a son that I can relate to.