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Electric Shadows
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by Jason Whyte

"The shadows of film, the shadows of life..."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. The love of film and going to the cinema pours through Xiao Jiang’s debut feature “Electric Shadows,” a first film that I wish I could see more of. While there is nothing wrong with an independent first-feature such as Gavin Heffernan’s “Expiration” or Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” on a low budget, it is truly exciting to see a first-timer blast right out of the gate with a memorable story that crosses time, characters and social status, all to the tune of the love of cinema.

As the film opens, we meet a water delivery boy named Mao Dabing (Yu Xia) who spends all of his free time in the cinema (“It costs about three days wages to go, so that’s why I like going to the all-night weekend shows”). The love is there. One day as he is biking towards his favorite cinema for another escape, he hits a pile of bricks and comes face to face with an angry woman who proceeds to slam his head with a brick. As he comes to in the hospital, he finds the woman who hit him and learns that she is in psychiatry, and asks the man to feed the fish in her apartment.

Mao visits her apartment to find it a film lovers’ paradise. Filled with old film prints, books and projectors, he starts to puruse this woman’s life and finds a diary on her desk. As he reads, the film flashes back to Ningxia in 1971 and then tells the story of a young woman named Jiang (Jiang Yihong) who is a movie lover and wishes to perform on the stage. She’s also pregnant with her lover abandoning her. She gives birth to a daughter and names her Ling Ling, who quickly grows up to share the same passion of film as her mother and uncle Pan, who runs outdoor cinema in the village.

Ling Ling’s young life has challenges. Not only do they live in a small, low-class village, her life becomes challenged when she comes across a former classmate who taunts and bullies her. Eventually, the two become friends after learning the classmate is being abused by his father. After he leaves, Ling Ling faces another challenge with Jiang marrying Pan and the birth of her younger brother Bing Bing, who is smothered by the parents at the level that Ling Ling never experienced. What follows are events that will change everyone in the future, some good and bad.

The director, Xiao Jiang, is only 32 but has a strong career ahead of her. It is quick to see that she not only has talent, but she loves cinema and wants to tell the most interesting story possible. This is a beautifully made film; with solid performances (the cast is an assortment of professionals from China as well as some first-time acting by the children) to go along with the outstanding compositional work that shows a vast, endless land in China. And while I found the film’s narrative device a bit sloppy at first, cutting back and forth to Mao in Ling Ling’s apartment, the choice makes more sense towards the end as to the identities of past and present.

“Electric Shadows” is a definite gift to the love of films, and as I listened in a question-and-answer session with director Jiang at a screening at this year’s Vancouver Film Festival, she remarked that she wants this film released in China at the start of 2005 to mark the centenary of Chinese filmmaking. It is a good choice.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10442&reviewer=350
originally posted: 10/03/04 04:28:58
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/06/15 hh very not well 1 stars
8/22/15 Vhtyvhxx zM2UNS Best price metronidazole 250 mg for dogs nomes comerciais flagyl ok pregnancy dosage 3 stars
12/31/10 SEAY What a great site. Very impressive!!! Your site is an Internet resource. I'd like to put a 3 stars
12/30/09 name comment1, 5 stars
9/14/09 alexd514 Very nice site! 5 stars
7/31/09 Pharmg637 Very nice site! 5 stars
7/20/07 ravindra chaurasiya gr8 movie 5 stars
2/26/06 SK Lim Very touching story, great acting and well-directed 5 stars
2/27/05 Menaha I absolutely loved this film! 5 stars
10/22/04 s stenson very moving 5 stars
9/16/04 Qu Li Old Roommate of Xiaojiang living in Toronto. Call me if you have chance 416-925-2664 5 stars
9/14/04 NBV This movie is amazing - so sad, and yet with a touch of hope. 5 stars
9/12/04 Loretta Attended world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Beautiful first film for Xiao Jiang 5 stars
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Directed by
  Xiao Jiang

Written by
  Xiao Jiang

  Xia Yu
  Jiang Yihong
  Li Haibin
  Guan Xiaotong
  Zhang Yijing

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