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Springtime in a Small Town (2002)

Cast: Hu Jingfan, Hu Jingfan, Wu Jun, more...
Director: Tian Zhuangzhuang, Tian Zhuangzhuang
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Studio: Palm Pictures
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Hong Kong, China
Running Time: 112 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
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For his first feature since 1993's acclaimed The Blue Kite, director Tian Zhuangzhuang chose to remake a classic 1949 Chinese film, Springtime in a Small Town. The film takes place in 1946. Yuwen (Hu Jingfan) lives on a country estate with her sickly husband, Dai Liyan (Wu Jun), and his rambunctious teenage sister, Dai Xiu (Lu Sisi). They are waited on by the family's longtime servant, Lao Huang (Ye Xiaokeng). Yuwen cares for her husband and she's kind to him, but she doesn't seem to love him. Frustrated with his inability to give her a child due to his constant illness, she sleeps in a separate room. For his part, Liyan feels guilt and shame over his inability to properly care for his wife. Their lives are disrupted by the arrival of Liyan's childhood friend, Zhang Zhichen (Xin Bajqing), a well-traveled doctor. Liyan soon learns that his old friend was once his wife's neighbor, but he doesn't know that they were also in love, and had at one time planned to marry. Tensions swirl about the household as Yuwen and Zhichen try to reconcile their lingering feelings for each other with their responsibility to Liyan. Springtime in a Small Town won the San Marco Prize at the 2002 Venice Film Festival, and was selected for the 2002 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Slow and Lovely Spring by talltale December 1, 2004 - 2:20 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Slow can often be a maddening quality in a film. Occasionally, however, it's wonderful--if the movie containing it also offers characters you can identify with and/or care about. When the film also possesses beauty and grace, then its very slowness adds to the enjoyment. SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN is a case in point. Often photographed from behind see-through screens, windows and openwork ornamentation, this might seem pretentious or arty; instead the technique offers distance, elegance and the sense of an earlier time. The small cast of characters--husband, wife, young sister, manservant and best friend--are all well-realized characters, especially the husband. The actor who plays him manages to turn passivity and longing into a remarkably sexy combination. This is the kind of film in which a simple gesture takes on enormous meaning. I doubt that action-lovers will queue up, but if you are willing to tackle this film, you'll find your time well spent with a culture and period (China immediately after WWII) about which many of us know little.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.79)
19 Votes
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Visual Treats
Kudos to the Cinematographers. Without realizing it, I chose 4 Mark Lee films.

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