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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.5%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 25%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl
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by Wendell Walker

"Well-made tragic travelogue with a fatal flaw"
2 stars

Joan Chen is getting a lot of good press for this, her debut film as a director, as well she might: it's a lovely piece of work. The problem is with the characters, who are fundamentally uninteresting, if not downright annoying.

It is China, still pursuing revolution in 1975, and young people from the city are being recruited to the country. Wen Xiu signs up, and finds herself in the near-wilderness, learning horse-handling from Lao Jin, a rough-hewn but decent Tibetan. In the beginning, the film displays a fine hand at the helm, as we see Xiu-Xiu's family and home life, then watch her being untimely ripped from its bosom. To watch the honest emotional reaction to seeing their eldest daughter being shipped off, prematurely adult, to the country, is to feel welcomed to the world of the film, and sorely tempted to make uncharitable comparisons to a similiar scenario in Phantom Menace. Oh George Lucas, where art thou?

After being won over so effectively in the beginning, it is with sadness and confusion that it begins to dawn on the audience that the character of XiuXiu, who rightfully misses her family and her city, seldom rises above pure selfishness and insensitivity, insulting Lao Jin, denigrating his life, making petulant demands and generally doing her best to act the part of a spoiled bitch from the city. For his part, Lao Jin has little to do but suffer in ignoble silence, his desperate feelings of love unrequited and impossible to articulate.

Characters like this don't present an insurmountable problem, dramatically, if the story takes them through some interesting chnages. But no, Lao Jin simply continues suffering as Xiu-Xiu gets more and more desperate, until the film ends in mutual annihilation, as how else could it.

The film itself is a tragedy, because it is very well and lovingly executed in so many ways. The Chinese plains are stunningly rendered, the two principals impeccably present their characters, the sense of place never wavers, and the hand of the director is graceful and firm. But in the end, that's only enough for some of us.

This is a foreign film for suckers to whom lovely settings, sterling acting and, of course, subtitles add up to a worthwhile filmic experience. But when a movie defines characters that work so hard to push you away, I say why resist?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1968&reviewer=82
originally posted: 07/15/99 00:31:29
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User Comments

12/10/02 marc Frontario One of the best/most heartbreaking movies ever 5 stars
6/07/01 Genghizkhan66 Sunning,beautiful sad piece and tragic love story. 5 stars
5/30/01 Rico Powerful,haunting and heartbreaking.Great cast, stunning landscape from a great Ms.Chen. 5 stars
2/11/01 mccall heartbreaking 5 stars
2/07/01 paulo deep from the heart from someone who knows china. Tragic story about tragic history 5 stars
3/02/00 Martin Payne Great Movie, The story from start to finish kept me interested. Great landscape. 4 stars
9/23/99 Adrianne Very powerful and moving 5 stars
8/20/99 Ron F. Minimalist dialogue, wonderful visually, moving tale 5 stars
8/09/99 Peter M if you liked Star Wars, don't bother watching this 5 stars
6/02/99 Noreen H. I don't remember having cried so much at a film since "Gone With the Wind." 4 stars
5/24/99 Steven Sinclair Fucking Awsome! 5 stars
5/10/99 Mr Showbiz A powerful directorial debut in this examination of the Chinese oppression of women 4 stars
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  07-May-1999 (R)



Directed by
  Joan Chen

Written by
  Joan Chen

  Jie Gao
  Wenqiang Wang
  Jiangchi Min
  Qin Lao
  Fang Huang

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