Tuesday, February 23, 2016

771. Hong Gaoliang

Hong Gaoliang
The Red Sorghum
Directed by Zhang Yimou

I was absolutely convinced that this film was going to start with a rape and watched the first fifteen minutes in between my fingers.  I was kind of right, although I guess it would officially fall under the category of "dubious consent."  I am still not sure how I feel about this film, even after I have had several hours to reflect.

A young woman is sold by her father to a rich leper (even more rape-y vibes, although at least we don't have to see it).  She is being transported by sedan, when her wedding party is attacked by a bandit.  A member of her party is able to fight the man off and the two later have a tryst that kind of feels like rape.  Her husband dies, leaving her in charge of the distillery and while the workers suspect murder, they cannot identify a culprit.  The entire film is recounted by the woman's future grandson.

I felt like I missed the point of this movie, although I might be over thinking it.  It's only ambition might have been to tell a love story, but the male lead was so unlikable that I found it hard to root for the characters.  The narrator immediately identifies his grandmother and grandfather, taking some of the mystery out of the story.  I got excited when she took over the distillery.  I thought it was going to be like Far From A Madding Crowd, but somehow that plot line never fully became a tale of empowerment.  That's fine, but it made the remainder of the movie rather dull.  The ending felt really out of place, although I suppose its suddenness was intentional.

I am rambling quite a bit.  I guess I don't really think it deserves its place on the List, but I am not ready to call it a bad film.  It's my decisiveness that makes me such a good reviewer.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Acting debut of Gong Li.

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