2009   UK, France, Germany She, a Chinese
She, a Chinese Image Cover
Additional Images
Director:Xiaolu Guo
Studio:UK Film Council
Writer:Xiaolu Guo
IMDb Rating:6.0 (449 votes)
Awards:2 wins
Duration:103 min
Location:Chongqing; London
Languages:Mandarin, English
Xiaolu Guo  ...  (Director)
Xiaolu Guo  ...  (Writer)
Lu Huang  ...  Li Mei
Wei Yi Bo  ...  'Spikey'
Geoffrey Hutchings  ...  Geoffrey Hunt
Chris Ryman  ...  Rachid
Hsinyi Liu  ...  London Tour Guide
James Parry  ...  Medical student
John Parish  ...  Composer
Zillah Bowes  ...  Cinematographer
Andrew Bird  ...  Editor
Comments: Frustrated with life in a rural village, she's slapped by her mom, groped by her boyfriend, raped by a truck driver, moves to Shenzhen. Fired from a factory job on her first day, she volunteers to work at a Love Salon. Her lover gets killed (good thing he had a pile of money underneath his mattress). She moves to London and gets a job but her first paycheck is taken back because she has no bank account. She goes to work in a massage parlor and marries a wrinkly old white guy with a bank account who reads the newspaper too often and his cat dies. She gets pregnant by an Indian whose cultural identity is calling him home rather than pushing him away, so he leaves her. The quantity of bummers in this film is so thick it skips along too rapidly and loses credibility.

Lu Huang as Mei (The 'She' of the title) does a fine job plowing her way through the endless misfortune (she did the same thing in Blind Mountain—a great film), so props to her. The story, however, which has a heart and good intentions, asks so much of its characters it stretches the limits of credulity creating distance instead of empathy. It begins to suggest that the circumstances "She" gets into are a result of personal selfishness, or stupidity, rather than exposing or exploring the difficult climb from rural Chinese village to downtown London.

I recommend this film because many of the realities and situations it points at are worth considering. I just wish it would have pointed at a few less and explored them more deeply, or with a whisper of hope. I've got nothing against bleak films, but She, A Chinese gives the impression that once the desire to break free of tradition and hopeless circumstances begins, a stream of unrelenting nausea is likely to follow. Which in turn begs the question of whether the scenarios depicted in the film are the result of the personal characteristics of this particular She, in a sense becoming a character study, or if they are some sort of warning siren or social commentary on what a bitch life is if you begin from a certain place, look a certain way, and have unrealistic expectations concerning what can be done about it.

Broken into discreet elements—the film is broken into discreet parts with the use of title cards that offer sometimes whimsical commentary on various events—the execution is pretty good, but the overall impact is diluted. The performances are solid and the director does a good job making things appear realistic so it might just be a case of truth being harder to get on board with than fiction.

Summary: This is the story of Mei, a young woman on a trip from East to West after her escape from her provincial Chinese village. Beginning in Chongqing and a disastrous factory job, Mei soon heads out for London and a marriage to an older man where her entrapment begins anew.

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