For no apparent reason, a mute young woman assaults a youth who delivers water on his bicycle, injuring him and ruining his bike. Surprisingly, she asks him to feed her fish while she is in...
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For no apparent reason, a mute young woman assaults a youth who delivers water on his bicycle, injuring him and ruining his bike. Surprisingly, she asks him to feed her fish while she is in custody. Her tiny apartment, he discovers, is a shrine to his favorite escape, the movies. He finds her diary - a screenplay of her life built around scenes from favorite films - and it sets off his imagination. Maybe they have more in common than a love of the movies.Written by
Lingling was locked inside the house because her mother wanted her to stay at home and study. She was in her bed looking at a picture, in the first shot, you can see the word "China" on her pillow. When the camera switched the position, the word "china" disappeared on her pillow. She clearly moved her position even though she was supposed to be in the same spot. See more »
'Electric Shadows' tells a story about a girl named Ling Ling and her friend Mao Dabing against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution in China. The film starts with Dabing (Xia Yu), a teenager who loves movies, accidentally falling into a brick wall with his bicycle. The walls collapses, a girl picks up a brick and smashes Dabing on the head. Then the girl, who seems unable to speak, asks Dabing to feed her fish while she has to stay with the police. He agrees and in the girl's apartment he finds her diary, learning that she is indeed his old friend Ling Ling (Qi Zhongyang).
While he is reading her story we see the images, starting with Ling Ling's mother, how she always wanted to be a famous actress or singer, how Ling Ling was born as an unwanted child, how her mother wanted to end her own life but due circumstances changes her mind. Ling Ling's mother becomes a caring mother who wants nothing but the best for her daughter. Dabing enters the story, at first a bully for Ling Ling but after a while they become best friends. In the meanwhile Ling Ling's mother spends a lot of time with Uncle Pan, the town's movie operator. This is of course where the kids find their love for the movies, and Ling Ling's mother finds the love for a new man.
I should say nothing more about the story. We understand things will get complicated since Dabing and Ling Ling did not recognize each other when he was smacked with the brick. We also see that some terrible things must have happened to Ling Ling. All those things are for you to discover with this terrific film from first-time director Xiao Jiang. In a way this film is about loving movies, the way 'Cinema Paradiso' is that. The director told the audience that she was honored with this comparison, but it seems only right. 'Electric Shadows' is original in its own way, but shows a lot of older Chinese pictures, honoring them. The performances ask again for comparison with 'Cinema Paradiso'. The adults are good, especially Ling Ling's mother, but the child performers here are the best thing. The film shows them most of the time when they are around six years old. The way kids around that age say anything that comes to mind is perfectly portrayed here, with two effective kids for Ling Ling and Dabing. Much of the humor in the film comes from them and their moments together.
Although the final moments of the film play in a conventional way the scenes work. Everything comes together, making 'Electric Shadows' a real finished picture, accessible for larger audiences than a lot of other Asian films. The film has its flaws. It shifts back and forth in time where it does not really have to, like the director just chose a couple of moments to do so. The same with the narration. Sometimes we hear Dabing and his life story, sometimes we hear him reading her diary, sometimes we hear Ling Ling herself like she is reading or writing her diary. Both things do not really matter, but show how hard it is to make the right choices, especially when you direct a film for the first time.
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