'We're waiting to grow old'. This sentence briefly sums up Yaoyun and his wife Liyun's bitter realization about their lives. They were once a happy family - until their son drowned playing by a reservoir. And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot even understand the local dialect. Their adopted son Liu Xing does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either. Defiantly rejecting his 'foreign' parents, he one day disappears altogether. The married couple are repeatedly enmeshed in their memories. Finally, they decide to return to the site of their lost hopes. In this family saga spanning three decades of Chinese history, the private and the political merge and the individual gets caught up in the gears of a society in the throes of constant change. Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from the country's upheaval in the 1980s following the Cultural Revolution to the prospering ...Written by
This years we are witnissing something of a "Chinese new wave". "So long my son" was already the third Chinese film I saw this year (after "An elephant sitting still" (2018, Bo Hu) and "Long day's journey into night" (2018, Gan Bi)).
"So long my son" is the perfect sequel to "Lifetimes" (1994, Zhang Yimou). "Lifetimes" covers de period 1940 - 1970 in Chinese history and "So long my son" the period 1980 up till now. In "Lifetimes" the culrurel revolution is the most defining event, in "So long my son" it is the one child policy.
In "Lifetimes" the story is told in chronological order. "So long my son" jumps back and forth in time. Together with the many characters "So long my son" asks from his viewers that they keep paying attention. The one who does so is richly rewarded for this. Moreover the peculiar chronological order is in my opinion less artificial than in for example "Memento" (2000, Christoher Nolan). Some events in the film have such an emotional "gravity" that it is just natural that they disrupt the normal chronological order.
"So long my son" is in some ways critical to Chinese society. Apart from the one child policy and the damage it has done it shows the growing gap between rich and poor. The critisism mainly concerns however policies started by Deng Xiaoping. The widening of the distance between rich and poor is after all an indirect consequence of the open door policy (mixed state ruled and market economy) that was introduced in 1978.
"So long my son" says nothing about the surveillance state that Xi Jinping is building at the moment. Long it was thought that a more market oriented economy would lead by itself to a more liberal political system. This did not happen, and one can call that "The Chinese paradox". Now we have a smaller "Chinese paradox" in the movie industry, where the surveillance state does not preclude the already mentioned Chinese new wave.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this