20 February 2002 | tezzzaaa
a gripping and intelligently constructed film with great acting
I saw this film at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2002. This seemed to be one of the less popular films on the festival, however, as it turned out, all the more interesting.
The story, of an actor trying to come to grips with himself and his environment after withdrawing from a drug addiction, is based on actual facts. Moreover, the characters playing in the film are the real people living this experience over again, this time for the film, which is partly set up as a stage play. Not only do they all happen to be good actors, Jia Hongsheng's parents are actors in real life as well, the methods used in highlighting their relationship towards Jia are very effective.
Jia Hongsheng is the actor of some Chinese action films late eighties start nineties. Later you can see him in great films such as Frozen and Suzhou River. In between these two career paths Jia becomes a drug addict and looses all drive to act or even do anything productive, except for making somewhat futile attempts at becoming a guitar virtuoso.
I like the way the writer of the scenario choose to emphasize on his behavior after withdrawal more than on the horror of drugs. We really feel the pain and struggle Jia is in. At the same time we hate him for the way he treats those around him.
The film draws the viewer into a tiring pattern Jia seems to be caught in, dragging with him his parents and sister who try to take care of him. Because there are personal 'interviews' with the characters we feel like we are getting to know Jia not only through himself but through others as well.
The film has a heavy feel, but scenes of Jia cycling through Bejing and partying with his friends lighten the tone. So does the bitter humor in a lot of events throughout the film. The music is beautiful and stayed with me for a while after. This is a film that might not easily appeal to many people but for those interested in the more serious and modern Chinese film this is a strong recommendation.