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Not One Less (1999)

Cast: Wei Minzhi, Wei Minzhi, Zhang Huike, more...
Director: Zhang Yimou, Zhang Yimou
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Columbia TriStar
Genre: Foreign, China, Coming of Age
Running Time: 106 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

In a village in China mired in poverty, Gao (Gao Enman) is the lone teacher in a school so threadbare he must ration chalk to make sure he has enough for the day. The destitution of the village is not limited to the school; some of the children sleep in the schoolhouse because they have nowhere else to go, and many students have already dropped out to go to work to help feed their families. Gao is forced to leave town for a month, and no one in the village is able to take over for him except a 13-year-old girl, Wei Minzhi (Wei Minzhi), who possesses only the most rudimentary education herself. What she lacks in educational credential, she makes up for in determination -- she needs money, and teaching is an honest job that pays, and since she'll get a 10 yuan bonus if all 28 students are still attending when Gao gets back, she is determined that no one will drop out on her watch. So when one student turns up missing, and word has it he's been sent to the city by his mother to work, she travels to the city to look for him. In a place where thousands of children are working in the underground labor force or begging on the street, one boy hardly stands out from the crowd, and she has little luck. However, she's able to persuade a sympathetic TV station manager to let her make an announcement in hopes someone knows where he has gone. Despite its serious and often grim theme, Yi Ge Dou Bu Neng Shao is often light in tone and draws on the strength and humor of its characters; the film won the Golden Lion at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Really Enjoyable Storytelling by MrBunBun June 22, 2004 - 11:59 PM PDT
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful
If you hate those kind of moralizing lessons in world poverty hidden in foreign films -- you will NOT be disappointed.


In other words, the story in this movie draws you in and is not heavy-handed or moralistic. On the contrary, it's panoramic. It draws you in and you get the feeling you're just seeing a great swath of countryside reality for a LOT of kids in China.

The pace of the story is neither artificially quick nor painfully art-house slow. It moves at a human pace and that's what makes this story so damn enjoyably REAL.

It is a sweet film that leaves you feeling good but also thoughtful and I think that's a winning combination.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.59)
73 Votes
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Happy Anniversary!
As of October 10, I have been a member of GreenCine for 1 year. Here are 10 great movies I'd probably not have seen if not for GreenCine
Serious G
Movies that are true to their artistic integrity, but are incidentally Rated G (as opposed to G-Rated movies that sacrifice artistic merit in an attempt to market to a demographic)

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