11 Flowers: Harsh Truths

As unromanticized a portrait of Chinese sociopolitical history as any made by the Sixth Generation, Beijing Bicycle director Wang Xiaoshuai's semiautobiographical coming-of-age drama—set in 1975, just before the death of Mao and his pitiless Cultural Revolution—is still more sensitive than disaffected, too gentle to resonate more than mildly. In a bleak rural province of southwestern China, the childhood innocence of 11-year-old Wang Han (a soulful, lively Liu Wenqing) is disappearing quickly, even if his actor father and strict mother aren't letting their poverty and forced factory jobs sour their dispositions. Too young to understand the oppression around him, Wang Han is free to get into mischief with his schoolmates, his biggest care in life the white dress shirt ...
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