Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Reviews

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Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
Set in 1971 communist China is the tale of two young men sent to live in the mountains to be "re-educated" as peasants in the Chairman Mao method. One is the son of a dentist, the other is a violinist, and both are considered "reactionists" because of their apparent intellectualism. The mountain villagers are painted as savages, with no knowledge of technology or high art (they think the violin is some sort of toy which they pass around and bang on like chimps) and a serious distrust of anything foreign. The two young men are quickly forced into menial labor, hauling buckets of human waste to be used as fertilizer and hauling rocks out of the tiny mine shaft. One day, the community tailor comes to the village, along with his teenage granddaughter, and both boys quickly fall in love with her. She's not like the other peasants, she has a curious mind that doesn't necessarily fall in line with Mao's ideals. She steals the boys' alarm clock and takes it apart to see how the animal on the face worked. She builds models of the airplanes she sees fly overhead. The boys decide to teach her to read, and they find a stash of banned books one of the other re-trainees has smuggled into the village. "Xiao Cai Feng" is fairly subtle in it's demonstration of the evils of ignorance in a totalitarian society, unfortunately the same subtlety isn't applied to the love triangle element of the story. However, it is a beautiful and compelling (well, most of the time it's compelling) movie nonetheless.
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2009
As per usual in these types of films, it's beautiful but stunningly boring. But then again, so was the book.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2006
I had read the book (on which this film is based) a few years back and thought it should be made into a movie. Well, it actually had been made into a f ilm. Now that I've finally seen it, it goes to show how powerful this story is. Set during the communist re-education period of China's histroy, the uplifting, emotional power of forbidden music, forbidden books and forbidden love are timeless and are so poetic in this adaptation. It proves that artistic and creative thinking cannot be supressed and are the great and noble characteristics that make up the human spirit. It also helps that the author of the book (largely autobiographical) is also the film's director. NOTE: Chinese, with English subtitles.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2009
A coming-of-age story with breathtaking footage of a remote mountain village in China. It takes place during the Cultural Revolution and is about two friends who both fall in love with the same young beauty. The tale is gripping. It will make you laugh and also empathize with the character's pain.
jimbotender
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2009
I was wooed by the call of the wild,oh the poetic motion and oh the indiscreet nature of the protagonists.Mesmerizing to the end of social inflation,the political scenery is a stereotypical background,erotica and affliction in the countryside is what makes this film move around.Such brilliance near the mountains.
January 29, 2008
an interesting piece on the cultural revolution and surprisingly ties in with the industrialization of rural China brought upon by the 3 Gorges Dam. The limestone karsts are pretty and the tale of 2 friends amusing, especially at the end when they share a beer and recall old times.
½ August 10, 2010
Three of the most talented actors from China are starred in this surprisingly sweet and romantic film.
April 16, 2010
Though slow at times, and particularly at the beginning, I found the story gripping and quite a bit of it rather endearing.
October 24, 2009
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002) In 1971, in the China of Mao Tse Tung, the two university students Luo (Kun Chen) and Ma (Ye Liu) are sent to a mountain mining village with very ignorant peasants and also a Maoist rehabilitation camp, to be reeducated. Both fall in love for the illiterate granddaughter of the local tailor, called "little seamstress". They become friends, and Luo and Ma steal forbidden books of western literature, and while they read the books and teach the little seamstress, they also tell the story to the community and play classical music in the violin, developing and improving their lives. What a magnificent and beautiful movie is "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress". In a wonderful landscape with stunning scenery, this revolutionary love story about the importance of books to improve the life of people is very believable and I am not sure whether it is based on a true story. The good things first: The acting was commendable with Kun Chen and Ye Liu delightfully light - hearted despite the circumstances, Xun Zhuo playing a simple yet intelligent girl and Shuangbao Wang in his portrayal of the stern, severe Comrade Brigadier. Still, the film falls flat because of slow, plodding scripting, bad dialogue (which could be the fault of the translation in parts) and an overall failure to evoke emotions. The audience never gets the impression that there is love between the two young intellectuals and the seamstress. This may stem from cultural differences, but for me as a western viewer, their relation seems sterile. I enjoyed this movie but it is somewhat overtly sentimental for my taste. This is a fairly enjoyable not too serious movie. I always enjoy looks at other cultures. Three stars four stars depending on your mood. I wish he had played more music.
October 24, 2009
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002) In 1971, in the China of Mao Tse Tung, the two university students Luo (Kun Chen) and Ma (Ye Liu) are sent to a mountain mining village with very ignorant peasants and also a Maoist rehabilitation camp, to be reeducated. Both fall in love for the illiterate granddaughter of the local tailor, called "little seamstress". They become friends, and Luo and Ma steal forbidden books of western literature, and while they read the books and teach the little seamstress, they also tell the story to the community and play classical music in the violin, developing and improving their lives. What a magnificent and beautiful movie is "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress". In a wonderful landscape with stunning scenery, this revolutionary love story about the importance of books to improve the life of people is very believable and I am not sure whether it is based on a true story. The good things first: The acting was commendable with Kun Chen and Ye Liu delightfully light - hearted despite the circumstances, Xun Zhuo playing a simple yet intelligent girl and Shuangbao Wang in his portrayal of the stern, severe Comrade Brigadier. Still, the film falls flat because of slow, plodding scripting, bad dialogue (which could be the fault of the translation in parts) and an overall failure to evoke emotions. The audience never gets the impression that there is love between the two young intellectuals and the seamstress. This may stem from cultural differences, but for me as a western viewer, their relation seems sterile. I enjoyed this movie but it is somewhat overtly sentimental for my taste. This is a fairly enjoyable not too serious movie. I always enjoy looks at other cultures. Three stars four stars depending on your mood. I wish he had played more music.
½ June 30, 2009
Too much fiction kills good topic, setting and location. Performances by young actors are not great.
Much weaker than those films about the period of Cultral Revolution by Yimou Zhang and Kaige Chen.
I expected too much.
½ April 13, 2009
The movie overcomplicated the story, and took away the one-two punch ending that the book delivered square on.
½ February 27, 2009
Set in 1971 communist China is the tale of two young men sent to live in the mountains to be "re-educated" as peasants in the Chairman Mao method. One is the son of a dentist, the other is a violinist, and both are considered "reactionists" because of their apparent intellectualism. The mountain villagers are painted as savages, with no knowledge of technology or high art (they think the violin is some sort of toy which they pass around and bang on like chimps) and a serious distrust of anything foreign. The two young men are quickly forced into menial labor, hauling buckets of human waste to be used as fertilizer and hauling rocks out of the tiny mine shaft. One day, the community tailor comes to the village, along with his teenage granddaughter, and both boys quickly fall in love with her. She's not like the other peasants, she has a curious mind that doesn't necessarily fall in line with Mao's ideals. She steals the boys' alarm clock and takes it apart to see how the animal on the face worked. She builds models of the airplanes she sees fly overhead. The boys decide to teach her to read, and they find a stash of banned books one of the other re-trainees has smuggled into the village. "Xiao Cai Feng" is fairly subtle in it's demonstration of the evils of ignorance in a totalitarian society, unfortunately the same subtlety isn't applied to the love triangle element of the story. However, it is a beautiful and compelling (well, most of the time it's compelling) movie nonetheless.
January 28, 2008
Nice little story set during a pretty interesting/bizarre period of Chinese history. Only thing I didn't like was how it just kinda ends.
October 30, 2007
A little slow at points, but worth watching. Stunning footage of the mountains that are now underwater.
½ March 27, 2015
Charming and lyrical in its style, but brutal in its implications. I think modern audiences just have to be hit over the head to think something is deep. They are young, ignorant, and manipulated by propaganda, and each other. The significance of Balzac is the influence of western ideas
March 9, 2015
Chinese coming-of-age and the power of literature. I finished the book yesterday and enjoyed this adaptation. The amended ending is particularly beautiful.
May 12, 2013
the film felt vacuous or at least it left me feeling sort of empty, and insatiated at the end.
it was an easy,enjoyable enough watch but meaningful, insightful film it was not.
p.s. anyone else caught whiffs of homoerotic undertones? or was it just narrow-minded me?
October 25, 2006
potentially one of my favorite movies... a beautiful film about communism
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