Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the Heat of the Sun

In the Heat of the Sun (Jiang Wen, 1994, China)
with Xia Yu, Ning Jing, Geng Le...

Based on the novel written by Wang Shuo, this is the debut film as a director by famous actor Jiang Wen (he played in several 5th generation directors' films such as Red Sorghum, The Last Eunuch and in several recent Chinese films, Green Tea, A Letter from an Unknown Woman...).

Narrated by the voice-over of the now adult, Ma Xiaojun, "Monkey", the film tells from his memories the story of his youth in the 70s during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing while most of the adults were sent out to the countryside. He hangs out with the same group of young teen-agers, gets into fights with other youngsters and discorvers love and desire.
But as the narrator himself admits it's hard to tell what's imagined from what's real... The adult Xiaojun (Jiang Wen) questions his memories, sometimes even comments
with a ironical and distant tone on how foolish he could have been.
Great performance from all the cast, excellent cinematography (by Gu Changwei), brilliant story-telling with a strong melancholy and nostalgic feeling.
I may even prefered it than Devils on the Doorstep (his second direction film).
Highly recommended.

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