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.
Acting debut of Gong Li.