May 7, 2007

Zhang Yimou, 摇啊摇, 摇到外婆桥 (English title, Shanghai Triad) (1995). 103 minutes.
The Chinese title comes from a song line that is key to the overall narrative of the movie. It's a shame that the English title doesn't quite capture the tone or mood of this film.
It's 1930s Shanghai and a peasant boy of 14 from the countryside, Shuisheng, has come to the city to work with his uncle, who is an underling for a big triad boss. Shuisheng becomes the servant to the boss' mistress, Xiao Jingbao, played by Gong Li. The story is told mainly from the boy's perspective, which has the effect of over-weirding the scenes. Shuisheng's sense of how strange the set-up and these people are intensifies the audience's sense of strangeness and mirrors the audience's slow approach to understanding.
A fitful ending I won't spoil, but will say is bleak, bleak, bleak. Right after watching this, Sha said that Zhang Yimou should consider a sequel that catches up with Shuisheng 15-20 years later.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE this film. Gong li is such a beauty.


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