Springtime In a Small Town | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Springtime In a Small Town

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Tian Zhuangzhuang (The Blue Kite) directs this remake of the classic 1949 Chinese film, an elegant drama with just five characters. Set in post-war 1946 within the walls of a formerly well-tended home, young wife Yu Wen (Hu Jingfan) ministers to her sickly husband Li-yan (Wu Jun), her frustration barely concealed by the obligations of her marriage. The tiny household, which also includes Li-yan's lively teen-age sister and a faithful family retainer, is buoyed by the arrival of Li-yan's old friend Zhi-chen (Xin Bajqing), who once was in love with Yu Wen. The story, a love quadrangle, unfolds at a leisurely pace with languid long shots that often frame the protagonists behind tree branches, window frames and screens that keep us at a respectful distance and reinforce the cultural restraints that prevent the characters from acknowledging their desires and pains. Such emotions are revealed in small gestures and oblique moments that ultimately build to a conclusion that, while not overwrought, is nonetheless affecting. In Mandarin with subtitles. 3 cameras

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