Blush

on October 04, 1996 by Wade Major
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Like the best work of her "Fifth Generation" classmates Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, Li Shaohong's "Blush" is a sumptuous period saga centering on the reversals of fortune and cruel twists of fate that befall average Chinese citizens amid the turmoil of post-revolutionary life.
In this instance, the unsuspecting protagonists are a pair of former prostitutes, the demure Xiao'e (He Saifei of "Raise the Red Lantern") and the prideful Qiuyi (Wang Ji), who find themselves stripped of their prosperous vocation and forced to confront the harsh realities of life under the "new society." Following the divergent yet curiously parallel life paths that ultimately force the two women into the arms of the same man (Wang Zhiwen), Shaohong's restrained style and leisurely pacing make for occasional tedium, but never so much as to detract from the story's overall tragic impact.
Ultimately, however, the film is less a stylistic exercise than a literary one, owing as much to the contributions of screenwriter Ni Zhen and source novelist Su Tong (the same duo responsible for the "Raise the Red Lantern" novel and screenplay) as of Shaohong. Although not entirely successful, "Blush" is nonetheless an exceptionally ambitious endeavor and well worthy of its 1995 Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Starring Wang Ji, Wang Zhiwen and He Saifei. Directed by Li Shaohong. Written by Ni Zhen and Li Shaohong. Produced by Jimmy Tan and Cheng Zhigu. A First Run release. Drama. Cantonese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 118 min.
Tags: Starring Wang Ji, Wang Zhiwen and He Saifei, Directed by Li Shaohong. Written by Ni Zhen, Li Shaohong, Produced by Jimmy Tan, Cheng Zhigu, First Run, Drama
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