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

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.