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February 18, 2006

Shanghai Dreams, 2005

shanghaidreams.gifDuring the Cultural Revolution, Qinghong's parents took up Mao Zedong's call for a Third Line of Defense by relocating from Shanghai to work at factories on a rural outpost in the Guizhou Province. Years later, their ever-dimming hope of returning home has been re-channeled into the raising of their daughter, believing that their best prospects for their children's re-integration into the city lies in Qinghong (Gao Yuanyuan) obtaining a college education and maintaining their social separation from the provincial locals. But Qinghong's sentiments for her adoptive hometown is less entrenched, having become accustomed to the quiet rhythms of the bucolic town (a familiarity of ritual reflected in the recurring images of her morning exercises at school and her clandestine meetings with a local young man who works as a mill apprentice). Driven to near obsession to spare his children from repeating the disappointments and failures of his own frustrated life in exile and encouraged by recent political developments that seemingly point towards an opportunity for relocated workers to finally return home to Shanghai, Qinghong's father becomes increasingly intrusive in his daughter's budding romance and drives a wedge between the two in preparation for what he believes will be their impending departure, unwittingly setting the stage for the reluctant young couple's conflicted farewell. Using predominantly medium shots and incorporating recurring long shot landscape images to create a pervasive sense of distance and estrangement, Wang Xiaoshuai evokes the resigned nostalgia of uprooting and perpetual exile of Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Time to Live and the Time to Die and Jia Zhang-ke's attention for quotidian details that humorously encapsulate provincial youth culture (most notably, Platform) in Shanghai Dreams to create an understated, yet compelling and incisive tale of displacement, consuming obsession, and failed idealism.

Posted by acquarello on Feb 18, 2006 | | Filed under 2006, Film Comment Selects

Comments

This film won the Best film award at this year's(2005) International Film Festival Of Kerala. It was one of the 18 films that were in the competition section.

I thought it was an ok movie..Wasn't that impressed

Posted by: rakesh on Feb 22, 2006 11:32 AM | Permalink

Of the two Chinese films that I saw in the series dealing to some extent with Shanghai exiles during the Cultural Revolution (the other being Everlasting Regret), I definitely preferred Shanghai Dreams. That said, some of the roles are a bit caricatured (particularly the father), and it does feel a bit derivative of Hou and Jia without conveying a similar depth of insight.

Posted by: acquarello on Feb 22, 2006 3:02 PM | Permalink

I guess I made a mistake. This film didn't win the Best Film award. That honour went to another Chinese film;Li Shaohang's "Stolen Life" which I didn't like (I thought it was riddled with cliches).

PS:IMO, Hou and Tsai are the most exciting asian directors at the moment.

Posted by: rakesh on Feb 23, 2006 7:19 AM | Permalink

Oh! I forgot Wong...But why the hell is he doing an English movie!! Why do all the great directors want to move to Hollywood?

Posted by: rakesh on Feb 23, 2006 9:37 AM | Permalink

I reckon its a smart move by WKW; I hope he makes millions so that he can continue to churn out classy movies in his own way and style..even for his forthcoming film, I believe he still maintains his creative freedom (e.g., filming without a script)..so we can expect there will not be any compromises on that front.

Posted by: Mehul on Mar 12, 2006 8:45 PM | Permalink

Given that US commercials are already making pale imitations of Wong's aesthetics (i.e. De Beers' "A Diamond is Forever" campaign), I think the US is ready for it. I'm looking forward to The Lady from Shanghai as well.

Posted by: acquarello on Mar 13, 2006 10:50 AM | Permalink


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