Blind Mountain

"OK"

Blind Mountain Review


It sounds so promising: Xuemei, a naïve young woman, follows a man and a woman out to the boonies of early 1990s China in the hopes of securing a job with the company they run. Instead, she finds herself being sold as a bride to the vile son of local farmers in the hopes that she'll eventually bear them a grandchild and help maintain their farm. Seeing as the film is directed by Li Yang, the young filmmaker behind the 2003 coal-mine thriller Blind Shaft, the movie should be a slam dunk. Yet, it's not to be.

A much-discussed entry at last year's Cannes Film Festival, more for its bewilderingly-abrupt ending than any controversial subject matter, Blind Mountain basically amounts to a set of escapes and captures, all orchestrated competently by Yang. Xuemei, played admirably by Huang Lu, rebels at the very sight of her so-called husband (Yang Youan) as he attempts to consummate the sale. It's only later, with the husband's parents holding Xuemei down, that he finally gets to have his way.

When simple escape fails, Xuemei's plans run a bit loose on the moral side. First, she (debatably) falls for her husband's cousin, the only educated man in the entire village and the teacher of all the children. Her husband's mother, a nightmarishly-adrift creation, takes notice, helps banish the cousin, and is the first to notice Xuemei's lack of menstruation. As she beats her stomach in an attempt to cause a miscarriage, the mother-in-law begs her to do anything but hurt the baby; They're going to need more farmers sooner or later.

Colored fully within the lines and with scant few moments of fascination, Blind Mountain turns out to be a frustrating piece of anonymous cinema. Whatever signature was on Blind Shaft, and it was an indelible one, has here been buried underneath an aesthetic dead-calm. Political allegory? Perhaps, but if that's true, it's neither a smart one nor a clever one. The climax, involving Xuemei's father attempting to rescue his daughter, gives the movie a moment of liveliness that escalates into the brake-screech ending. Well, at least it's not perfunctory.

In fairness, Yang does allow for two moments of utter horror, the first being when Xuemei tries to slit her wrists and, on arrival at the hospital, the family is asked to pay before the doctors and nurses begin to work. The second, and far more infuriating, is when Xuemei's father finally comes to free his daughter with two Chinese government officials. As the town rallies around the father and his broken girl like the farmers in Frankenstein, the government officials talk with the village official and decide that, to keep both village and country happy, the girl should stay with her kidnappers. Enraging and engaging as these moments are, they bring up a more direct question: Why wasn't the whole film that angry?

Aka Mang shan.



Blind Mountain

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 12th March 2008

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Alexandra Sun

Starring: Huang Lu as Bai Xuemei

Also starring:

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