Friday, November 27, 2009



The inter-title informs us that Chinese immigrant workers make the long trek back home once a year to see their family. The film zeros in on Sugin Chen and her husband Yang Zhang who work in a sewing factory under appalling conditions. We then follow along as they return to their village during the Chinese New Year to see their 17-year-old daughter Qin and her younger brother. Some of the images during the long trip are just gorgeous.

One thing has to be said though: the film has the look of a “rough cut”, that stage in the post-production phase which is part of the editing process. The rough cut is not meant to be the perfectly assembled end product of the film, the final cut, which is distributed to theatres.

As such it is a good example of the pitfalls when any one person has more than two key production jobs. According to the end credits Lixin Fan is the Director, Cinematographer and one of the Editors. Consequently he has a lot to say about what gets to stay in the final cut or not. And in this case many times there are snippets that should have been edited out.

For example, Qin gets her hair done and comes out sporting long curls. In the very next shot her hair is once more straight. One or the other should go.
Another example: Yang is laying in bed suffering from a fever. Sugin goes off to work leaving him behind and when she gets there, who’s sitting in front of her? Why it’s Yang who somehow made a miraculous recovery from one shot to the next. One or the other should go.

However despite this shortcoming the story is compelling enough on its own to warrant taking the time to see it.


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