Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (20)
| Top Critics (2)
| Fresh (19)
| Rotten (1)
Long and slow, this melancholy Chinese drama offers a bleak but poignant view of life on China's margins.
Long and a bit unwieldy, and self-consciously philosophical in parts, yes, but Hu's first (and sadly last) feature weaves together its narrative threads clearly and sturdily.
Despite its grey, flat light and general melancholy punctured by menace, An Elephant Sitting Still is, by the end considerably more optimistic than it first appears about humanity.
The genius of the film is the grasp of its narrative. We are held by these grim games of fate, some genuinely life-or-death.
The camera is mesmerising and frequently in motion, Steadicam trailing and circling the characters closely, with them until the film's bittersweet end.
What makes Elephant exceptional is Hu Bo's piercing sensitivity to private doubts and anxieties, and his ability to make them visible on the faces of his complex, credible characters.
An Elephant Sitting Still is a masterpiece and a new benchmark for 21st century Chinese cinema.
An epitaph for an extremely promising career cut short.
An uncompromising masterpiece. One of the films of the year.
Sure, it's packed full of sorrow and several generations of people who have lost hope, but it captures the enduring sadness with such beauty and in such a skilful and imaginative manner it's difficult to write it off as pure miserabilism.
Hu Bo probes an abyss of endless despair, within it he finds an impenetrable beauty in our ability to withstand the unremitting brutality we inherit by simply existing.
A well told yarn within a tightly synchronized day that changes the lives of a multitude.
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