Powerful, understated drama
- So Long, My Son review by PD
In a nutshell, this long (over 3 hour) film examines the lasting damage done by China’s one-child policy and the Cultural Revolution. The story is an intimate one, yet it embraces a large cast of characters who reflect the immense changes that have swept China over the last 50 years, and shows the resilience of those Chinese who lived through it all who were later able to recover their faith in life.
The entire film is cleverly constructed out of flashbacks to the 1970s and '80s that tell the characters’ backstories a little at a time. It can be a tad confusing at times (you feel the need to turn back the pages as it were) but, particularly the first half, in which we get to know the characters, is thoroughly engrossing, and the script can be forgiven for sometimes withholding crucial information until it's ready to divulge it. Whereas other films have revealed the horrors of the death camps and whatnnot, here the scenes set during the Cultural Revolution are relatively restrained - the film being more interested in showing the steep personal price individuals paid, which affected the rest of their lives. A powerful, understated piece.
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