Springtime in a Small Town

"Good"

Springtime in a Small Town Review


A little bit of tension mixed with a ton of visually striking eye candy, Tian Zhuangzhuang crafts a quiet tale of reawakening with his first project in almost a decade. Simplicity is the key to Springtime in a Small Town, an attribute that both pricks our sense of humanity while it unfortunately relaxes into ordinary expectations.

Liyan (Wu Jun) and his wife Yu Wen (Hu Jing-fan) are living a quiet life amidst the Chinese depression of 1946, just after the war has come and gone to leave the community in ruins. Liyan has a strange sickness that keeps him from much physical exertion and Yu Wen selflessly tends to his needs before picking up the apparently singular available time occupier of needlepoint. Together, they look after Liyan's vibrant younger sister Xiu (Lu Si-si) and rarely speak as they pass the days.

Suddenly childhood pal Zhang Zichen (Xin Bai-quing) comes for a visit. He happens to be a doctor so he's able to slowly break the self-perpetuating exile Liyan has placed on himself, and cheery enough to restore a smile to Yu Wen's face. This introduction is also where the entire outline of the movie can be predicted as soon as it is learned that the downcast figure of Yu Wen also used to know Zhang, not just her husband.

While Yu Wen's motivation remains in question for a good deal of the film, whether she's a Lady Macbeth in disguise or an eventual saint, the outcomes of interaction between characters never fall outside the boundaries of the standard couple-trouble story. Zhang is going to look like a savior for Yu Wen's martyrdom, Liyan is going to see the possibilities of these two together and do something drastic, and the finale won't bring any surprises.

But standard plot devices aside, the building of tension is so well paced through fine acting and dialogue that Springtime never quite loses attention. The atmosphere is also perfectly lensed by Wong Kar Wai cinematographer Mark Li Ping-bing (In the Mood for Love, Fallen Angels). There is as much beauty to the decay as there is in a singular flower or the reflection of candlelight in a mirror. The environment is as much of a person as those portrayed within, and that these external forces play a part in the story's structure creates a more universal focus for some of the questioning about human nature that ensues.

Springtime in a Small Town may be a string of metaphors explored time and again in cinema, but it still deserves merit for being stunning to watch and willing to keep even the most dramatic difficulties between two people to low key climaxes.

Reviewed at the 2002 New York Film Festival. Aka Xiao cheng zhi chun.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 116 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 11th December 2003

Distributed by: Palm Pictures

Production compaines: Beijing Film Studio

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tian Zhuangzhuang

Starring: Jingfan Hu as Yuwen, as Dai Liyan, Bai Qing Xin as Zhang Zhichen, Xiao Keng Ye as Lao Huang, Si Si Lu as Dai Xiu

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.