So Long, My Son
Stars: Yong Mei, Wang Jingchun, Wang, Xu Cheng, Ai Liya
Writer-director Wang ‘Beijing Bicycle’ Xiaoshuai’s panoramic and deeply affecting film charts the lives of a married couple and their friends over four tumultuous decades of change and upheaval in China from the 1980s to the present day. We are introduced to Liyun (Yong Mei) and her husband Yaojun (Wang Jingchun) and their young son Liu Xing in the early 1980s. They are friendly with another couple, Shen Yingming (Xu Cheng) and Li Haiyan (Ai Liya) who work in the same factory. Shen and Li also have a son, Shen Hao or ‘Hoahoa’ who was born the same day as Liu Xing. Following a tragic accident, Yaojun and Liyun become estranged from their friends and relocate to a small port town, where Yaojun gets a job as a repairman. Meanwhile Yingming and Haiyan begin to accumulate a fortune as property developers. Years later Liyan and Yaojun return to their home town for a devastating reunion with their old acquaintances. Epic but intimate, the picture sees Wang masterfully orchestrating the non-chronological flashbacks to depict a country in a state of flux and the quotidian existence of those living in the rapidly shifting milieus. While the plotting occasionally resorts to contrivance, the drama is anchored by engagingly understated performances from Yong Mei and Wang Jingchun, and the ending is profoundly moving.