Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blind Mountain (Li Yang, 2007)

****
China

Wholesome university graduate Huang Lu is cheerily toiling her way through rural China, working for a distributor of medical instruments in order to pay off her family's debts. And one morning she wakes up to discover she has been sold into marriage to an uncouth, uneducated peasant and is to feed the pigs, bear children and have no further say in the matter. In his gracefully gut-wrenching verité suspense drama, Li Yang tracks Huang's harrowing escape attempts in a low-key, unfussy style traditionally suited to dusty odes to faintly exotic country life. In pretending he isn't doing it on purpose, he draws out your disgust and outrage with beguiling mastery (which is why a certain cathartic third-act incident has been repeatedly greeted with rabid applause at festival screenings around the world). He plays dumb, taking the perspective of an ambivalent observer allowing ugly things to take place against pretty scenery and seeing nothing unusual in the matter - which, he implies, is a common enough attitude in rural China where bride trafficking remains widespread.

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