When they are evicted from their apartment in a provincial city in Northern China, a young bar singer and her two male friends rent rooms from a retired opera singer in Peking. The ... See full summary »
Young teen girl Xiu Xiu is sent away to a remote corner of the Sichuan steppes for manual labor in 1975 (sending young people to there was a part of Cultural Revolution in China). A year ... See full summary »
When Song Qi stumbles upon her boyfriend's affair with her best friend, her life quickly starts falling apart and she is subsequently drawn into a quicksand of revenge and murder. Though ... See full summary »
Yu Hong leaves her home village and starts university in Beijing, where she develops a consuming and compulsive relationship with another student. The student riots from 1989 then ensue and take a toll on their lives.
Hired to spy on a philandering husband, Luo Haitao soon becomes entangled in a clandestine affair with the other man. Along with Luo's girlfriend, they succumb to the delirium of drunken nights, but how long can their tryst last?
After childhood abuse by her step-father and eight years in a juvenile psychiatric lockup, Amanda Lear is released. Her shrink is also her lover, who surreptitiously pays her rent on a nice... See full summary »
Journalist Guo lives together with her mother and daughter in the same residence. The relation of three generations looks placid but there is actually a fierce undercurrent of rebellion and resistance.
A special agent has for 8 years been deep undercover in Asia's lucrative organized crime trade as he plays protégé to one of the key players, Banker. Now, Nick has but he has started to feel loyalty to his new environment and to the money.
Loneliness, saving face, and public mores. In 1983 in China, Yun is a bright schoolgirl who gets pregnant. She's expelled, her boyfriend leaves town, and her mother arranges the baby's ... See full summary »
Three lonely people depend on each other when they get stranded at a deserted gas station in a blizzard. Floyd is a truck driver balancing on the edge of lunacy. He is the caring father of ... See full summary »
Lin and Wang are a wealthy couple, approaching middle age in Beijing. They are childless, because she is infertile. He owns a foot-massage parlor. One afternoon he rapes one of his workers, Liu, who has nearly passed out from drinking alcohol with a friend. Part of the assault is witnessed by Liu's husband, An-Kun, a window washer. He's angry with the boss and with his wife, and attacks Lin's car furiously. He seeks compensation and tries to blackmail him. Lin's wife counsels him and joins in revenge. Then, Liu realizes she's pregnant and a set of emotional calculations ensues: Lin wants to buy the child, Wang agrees but she has conditions, An-Kun goes back and forth and barely contains his anger; Liu withdraws. The baby comes. Can anything be sorted out?Written by
The film is banned in China, despite the heavily censored effort from the filmmaker. The producers have been banned from making movies in China for the next 2 years. See more »
Lost in greed and apathy
What happens to a collectivist, traditional society after it is traumatized by two extreme social experiments within a period of half a century dehumanizing communism and equally alienating rampant materialism? Perhaps the best film to come out of mainland China in a decade, Yu Li's Ping Guo is both a scathing social commentary on the state of present day China and a moving human drama. The film, as well as its characters, looks like Beijing: Grey, polluted, crowded and confused. Acting is uniformly excellent. Bingbing Fan, the stunning young actress with morning-after eyes, is superb in the title role as the all-too-human Ping Guo. As the story unfolds and the humanity of the other three leads begin to rise above their greed and apathy, Ping finds her inner strength. The ending, which should be predictable, comes as a touching surprise.
Others have commented enough on the story. It is best to walk into this film without knowing too much about it. If you are a frequent visitor to China or an observer of its mind-blowing ascent, the film will have more to say to you. However, both the story and the characters are universal. Even a passing knowledge of that fascinating society is sufficient to enjoy this minor masterpiece, although you might miss its many subtle ironies.
Chinese authorities banned the film from being shown in China. They also banned its producers from working in the industry for two years. The decision, which is almost an unofficial award, won't stop those who want to watch it.
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