When Ruoma Was Seventeen

"Very Good"

When Ruoma Was Seventeen Review


When Ruoma Was Seventeen is a beautiful and bittersweet film, a coming-of-age tale that simultaneously gives us a small peek into the rapidly escalating clash between the Old China and New China as the huge country races to modernize.

Modernization seems a long way from the remote corner of the southwestern province of Yunnan, where the beautiful Ruoma, a 17-year old member of the Hani ethnic minority, lives a fairly simply existence among the stunning flooded agricultural terraces that are the area's most notable attraction. Sharing a dirt home with her aged grandmother, who never leaves her loom, Ruoma sells roasted corn at the town market and minds her own business. She's surprised and embarrassed one day when a Western tourist asks to take her picture. She's certainly photogenic. Her daily dress is Hani: colorful textiles decorated with many dangling gold adornments.

Watching all this is the more worldwise Aming (Yang Zhigang), a slightly older local and aspiring photographer who is eager to make money and see the world (a poster of the World Trade Center hangs in his home.) He realizes that Ruoma can make money -- lots of money -- simply by posing for tourist photos out by the terraces. Plopping her on the back of his motorbike, they head out to the scenic overlook, and soon Ruoma is raking it in simply by smiling for the tourists in her Hani finery.

Ruoma has a bit of a crush on Aming, and he makes vague promises about taking her to a city (her dream is to ride in an elevator), but he already has a girlfriend who occasionally blows in from the city and condescends to Ruoma and all the other locals. Ruoma looks at the Westernized woman as if she's a creature from another planet.

The suspense here is in wondering what will happen if and when Ruoma is finally exposed to too much of the modern world or if her naiveté is taken advantage of by Aming, by his girlfriend, or by anyone else. Ruoma is so innocent and so sweet that the thought of anything bad happening to her is simply unbearable.

China has more than 40 ethnic minorities, and one service this film provides is to capture some of the Hani's songs, dances, and harvest rituals, all of which Ruoma takes part in with great joy, especially the one where men and women hurl big globs of mud at each other, hoping to hit their secret sweethearts squarely in the face. (It's part of the rice planting ritual.) The last thing Ruoma needs, you'll think, is to be taken away from this simple life, and yet the world encroaches.

Aka Ruoma de shi qi sui, When Ruoma Was 17.

One more year and she can't vote.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 16th June 2007

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Zhang Jiarui

Producer: Hou Keming, Wang Zeliang

Starring: Li Min as Ruoma, Zhigang Yang as Aming

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.