Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original title: Xiao cai feng
France/China, 2002. Les Productions Internationales Le Film, StudioCanal, France 3 Cinema, Les Films de la Suane, TF1 Films Production, Canal+, Bac Films, Centre National De La Cinematographie, China Film, Forbidden City Studios, Philippe Rousselet. Screenplay by Sijie Dai, Nadine Perront, based on the novel by Sijie Dai. Cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujou. Produced by Lise Fayolle. Music by Pujian Wang. Production Design by Juiping Cao. Costume Design by Huamiao Tong. Film Editing by Luc Barnier, Julia Gregory.
Two teenagers, both sons of political dissidents in Maoist China, are sent to a Communist re-education camp in a mountaintop village populated by illiterate peasants who train them in the ecological labour of the common man. When one of them falls in love with the village tailor’s granddaughter, the two men and the young girl meet in secret to read European literature that has been forbidden after the Cultural Revolution. She ends up loving the work of Balzac more than the boy who cares for her, giving her a new direction for her life and the impetus to try and reach for something more. This enjoyable melodrama could definitely do without the modern update in the last third that bogs the pace down before the ending, but otherwise is solid entertainment and very educational. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and the characters are all amiable.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film