Quitting

"Good"

Quitting Review


Director Zhang Yang's Quitting, which chronicles the rise and fall of Chinese actor Jia Hongsheng, is a difficult film in several respects. It's not an easy chore to watch a person's life crumble, and here the task is made even more taxing by virtue of the fact that this movie is based on a true story and, amazingly, its cast is comprised entirely by real people portraying themselves. In addition to traditional narrative filmmaking, Yang mixes documentary-like interview footage with several scenes where the camera pulls back to reveal the actors performing the material on the set of a play. Yang's inventiveness is commendable, but his daring causes the film to become derailed on several occasions. Add to that a pace which makes the second half of the film crawl to the finish, and ultimately Qutting can feel a bit too unnecessarily weighed down and excessive.

Jia Hongsheng was on the cusp of stardom in the 1980s, having gained fame playing the roles of villains in several Chinese B-movies. The actor, however, suffered from extreme emotional instability and his experimentation with drugs led to a quick fall from grace. As his mental state continued to fracture, Jia's parents -- fellow actors who were long-time members of a theater troupe in Northern China -- packed up all of their belongings and moved in with their son, who was sharing an apartment with his sister. The road to recovery was, of course, beset by a multitude of pitfalls, eventually leading Jia's family to institutionalize the man.

The film doesn't flinch for an instant, as it brings you down into the depths of the family's despair. The first half of the movie balances the emotionally wrenching moments with a slight touch of aloofness, offering the viewer the correct distance to observe Jia's unraveling. The parents' painstaking efforts to save their son and the often volatile manner in which he dismisses their help can be demanding to watch but also quite moving.

The film's storytelling experimentation doesn't show itself immediately, and while the scenes of the "filmed play" are innovative, they also have a tendency to take you out of the moment. I'll stop short of calling Yang's approach a gimmick because the director's aesthetic is very grounded, but there's a point where his technique flirts a bit too closely with overwhelming the film's emotional core.

The performances are mostly effective and hard to find fault with, as one can only imagine the strength it took for these people to revisit such an agonizing period in their lives. Because the turns in Jia's life become so depressing and Yang is so intent to capture it all in such detail, the film feels much longer than its 112-minute running time. The movie simply becomes draining, leaving you fatigued to the point where you appreciate the conclusion solely because the experience has come to an end.

Qutting may be a flawed film, but it is nothing if not sincere. It's a work that doesn't shy away from ugliness and challenges you to confront its dark subject on similar terms. While undoubtedly too heavy for many, it will certainly garner a strong reaction from those who choose to seek it out.

Aka Zuotian.

Quitting the tie-dyed trade.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st March 2002

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.