directed by: Xiaoshuai Wang
starring: Yuanyuan Gao; Bin Li; Yang Tang
|Chris says: "The first film I saw was one of the very best, so good that I worried it would set an impossible standard for the rest of the festival. Set in the Chinese province of Guizhou in the early 1980s, this Cannes Jury Prize winner focuses on Qinghong (Gao Yuanyuan), a teenaged girl. Her displaced factory worker father (Yan Anlian) desires to move his family back to Shanghai. He’s fiercely overprotective of his daughter, fearing that if she fails at her studies or succumbs to distraction from boys, she will then never get into college and end up laying down roots in this tiny backwater. Although the film is often bleak, director Wang Xiaoshuai also allows some much needed emotional release. He portrays this time and place with accuracy but also affection; particularly in one wonderful scene where Qinghong and her friend attend an underground dance party (the girls stand in a line, too shy to approach the boys who end up dancing with each other!). And although the father’s attitude is harsh and misguided, you never doubt that his intentions are good, even if he is unable to express them appropriately. Strongly reminiscent of Zhang Yimou’s more contemporary dramas (TO LIVE, NOT ONE LESS) and with great performances all around (not to mention some unforeseen, brilliantly executed plot twists), SHANGHAI DREAMS is both disquieting and powerful. 5 cats"|
|Bruce says: "In the latter part of the 20th century
the Chinese government moved workers from cities to 'third-line' factories
in remote provinces. Workers thought it would be a better life for their
families and provide fewer distractions from their children’s studies.
The state felt that the country would be better off with population redistribution.
"For some the shift from city to country culture proved no easier than moving to another country. As Nathaniel Hawthorne observed in The Marble Faun, there comes a turning point where if one stays any longer in a foreign land one can never return home. 'The years have a kind of emptiness when we spend too many of them on a foreign shore …if we do return we find that the native air has lost its invigorating quality and that life has shifted its reality to the spot we have deemed ourselves only temporary residents.' Caught between two countries, a citizen of neither.
"SHANGHAI DREAMS is the story of one family that has reached similar crossroads. Life in the provinces is not what they had hoped and the time for returning to Shanghai is running out. Factory bosses will not allow the workers to return. Even visiting Shanghai is out of the question for a trip to Shanghai for one person is equal to one month’s salary.
"The drama of SHANGHAI DREAMS is centered on Qing Hong who has met a young man she is forbidden to see. Her father humiliates her by forcing her to throw away the new red shoes her boyfriend has bought for her. Her father feels with his control she will study hard and get the excellent grades necessary for university. She and her best friend, the daughter of one of her father’s co-workers, devise excuses to meet boys under the guise of special pre-college study programs. They go to dances where the girls huddle shyly in corners while the boys dance with each other. The bad boy of the group does a fabulous John Travolta imitation which gives the film an unexpected jolt. Qing Hong’s friend is dazzled by his performance and falls hard for him.
"Filmed with great sensitivity to the mundane beauty of the bucolic setting, Wang Xiaoshuai (BEIJING BICYCLE) carefully lays the foundation for the intense drama that slowly builds. A loudspeaker voices the state’s dictum that 'we must remain vigilant in maintaining the social order.' Gunshots in the distance testify that executions are one means of making sure that order is preserved. China, nonetheless, is changing rapidly and yet another revolution is about to emerge. As technology moves the nation forward and images of John Travolta infiltrate even the remote provinces, maintaining the status quo is a quixotic option. SHANGHAI DREAMS gives us a glimpse of China at a turning point. 4.5 cats"