Steelworker Chen has a passion for music and plays the accordion in a local band with a close group of friends. When his estranged wife returns one day after years of absence, she demands a divorce and sole custody of their daughter. Chen is at a loss. He doesn't mind divorcing a woman who has become a stranger, but he can't bear to part with his daughter. Chen has worked hard to give her a respectable life and has taught her his love of music. When asked if she'd rather stay with her father or go with her mother, the girl gives a practical, devastating answer: she'll go with whomever can provide her with a piano. Chen cannot afford such a luxury item, but the piano becomes his last hope to save what little is left of his family. With the help of his loyal friends and the support of his lover - the singer in his band - Chen concocts several plans to fulfill his daughter's wish, from sneaking her into the local music school at night to drawing a fake piano. He even tries to steal the ...Written by
This is definitely one of my favorite Chinese films - and I've seen many.
It's a simple story, beautifully told, about complex characters. Each of the quirky characters is beautifully drawn, and their goals and relationships skillfully interwoven.
Never is the storytelling compromised for a cheap laugh. The cinematic language seems to draw it's influences from the stage and silent films and bold cinematic risks are taken that all work.
I appreciated the intimate insight into the workings of relationships (guanxi) between men. They trade cigarettes, favors and gifts constantly - in exactly the way I've read happens in industrial towns. But the film explains this fascinating flow of goods and services inside private relationships with unselfconscious authenticity.
For me the biggest highlight - and what really elevated this film to the realm of 'all time best' - was the use of Russian elements in the score and narrative. China's relationship with Russia is so complex and interesting and standing shoulder to shoulder like old comrades, they were nothing short of perfect.
For anyone with a genuine interest in China I highly recommend this film.
23 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this