The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo) (2006)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

An elderly woman discovers her trusting nature is a severe disadvantage in the 21st century in this comedy drama from Chinese filmmaker Ann Hui. Ye Rutang (Siqin Gaowa) was born and raised in Manchuria, but came to Shanghai to seek her fortune years ago. Now in her early sixties and once again single, Ye is uncomfortably aware that the China she knew as a young woman is changing radically, and she senses she's fallen behind the times when she loses a position as a tutor because her English doesn't sound "American" enough. As Ye looks for work, she begins to fall victim to a series of con artists, including a Chinese opera singer (Chow Yun-Fat) who uses his charm to pull her into a scheme selling futures on funeral plots; a neighbor fallen on hard times (Shi Ke) who isn't as bad off as she claims; and even her own 12-year-old nephew (Guan Wenshuo), who fakes a broken leg to get after her savings. Ye's misadventures leave her penniless, and she is somehow implicated in the grim fate of a local busybody (Lisa Lu), forcing Ye's daughter (Vicky Zhao Wei) to come to a reluctant rescue. Yi Ma De Hou Xian Dai Sheng Huo (aka The Postmodern Life of My Aunt) received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Central Motion Pictures Corporation


Wei Zhao
as Dafan
Lisa Lu
as Mrs. Shui
Gaowa Siqin
as Ye Rutang
Wenshuo Guan
as Kuan-kuan
Yun-Fat Chow
as Pan Zhichang
Shi Ke
as Jin Yonghua
Wang Ziwen
as Fei-fei
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo)

All Critics (1) | Top Critics (1)

[The film is] better when it acquires a melancholy strain than in the early, more comic action

Full Review… | September 12, 2006
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Yi ma de hou xian dai sheng huo)

Ann Hui is considered as one of the most important contemporary Hong Kong directors, but it's only in terms of her original viewpoint to a female and good sense of choosing topics, and her films are often quite boring, honestly. This film disappoints me more than usual since my expectation was high. She features even more first-class casts and crews than usual - Gaowa Siqin (a great actress of mainland China), Yun-Fat Chow, Wei Zhao, Lik-Wai Yu (cinematographer often works with Zhangke Jia), and Joe Hisaishi (the most popular film composer of Japan), etc. - and how can the film be this boring and pointless? All those elements definitely does not match to the content and the theme of the film, and it gives you sense of uneasy throughout the film. For example, Yun-Fat Chow and Wei Zhao are definitely miss-casting since it adds unnecessary and unwanted meanings to their characters (they are just attractions to more audiences), and Hisaishi's score (music itself is good) does not fit to the film at all. It sets in Shanghai, dealing with aging of a woman, but Hui does not use the big city to emphasize the isolation of the heroin well - in other words, her direction is pointless... Gaowa Siqin's performance is pretty much only highlight of the film.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

since wwi, the orient, especially the far east, has become the colonial prey of occiental domination, and frankly such aggression has only been deepened by the progress of globalization(from material level to ideological standard) which is a beauitified utopian term of cultural assimilation, to diminish the tribal characteristic then create a homogenic mode for people in various ethnicities. despite the orient does possess great exotic fascination over the occient, but merely in a superficial level, which manifests in various highly popularized yellow-face movies with oriental themes like kung-fu, samurai, geisha. (i mislike to mention samurai and geisha becuz it's jap, but to the western mass, what's so different between jap, korean and chinese? just like my compatriots ignorantly dismiss every caucasian as american.) in the international market, asian directors are eager to make period pieces like red cliff, crouching tiger and hidden dragon, the curse of gold flower...etc, but they're campy ridicules to gratify audience's oriental dreams. the term "multiculturalism" arised around the 60s with the raging countercultural phenomenon of beat generaion, worship of zen and orientalism as the apparatus against the conventional anglo-saxon culture, so the point is they just desire to revolt against the orthodox by showing off their fascination over the orient, such as jack kerouac has acclaimed himself as buddhist...such rebel spirit still exists nowadays, just like great many of my hipster flixster pals are fanatic to foreign, non-american movies and some hong-kong old martial movies made by the shaw company to flaunt how cool and unique they're. honestly it leaves me callous because none of those oriental movies has manifested a bit of authenticity but magnify its eccentricity to serve audience's wanders of curiosity as if we're freaks and monsters for demonstrations. "the postmodern life of my aunt" is the only chinese movie i've seen recently, which really contains three-dimensional protagonists and genuine paradox of cultural reflections, it's about the disillusion of a middle-age woman's metropolitan aspiration, how she decays and awakened from a false fancy of intellectual smugness. i feel awkward to elucidate further since the appreciated audience belongs to those who identify themselves as chinese, those with great absorption of its cultural sophistication, or everything might appear un-comprehesible and drab to the outsiders. this movie doesn't sell in taiwan and hong-kong despite the residents are all chinese by blood, the cultural identification has patheticaly disintegrated. letting alone chinese americans or any other dispersed chinese all over the world. (but it's a smashing hit in mainland china.) also none of my flixster pals has seen it or want to see it, perhaps i should feel complacently consoled by this lack of popularity because it means its exclusiveness, and every country should have movies like this as cultural preservations. just like "creature from the black lagoon" is an ultimte american b classic for kids who grew up watching every saturday's monster flicks on tv. to non-american foreigners, it might appear laughably obsolete.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer


What starts off bright and rosy finally degrades into the realities of life. I really enjoyed the first half of the film as "Auntie" (Gaowa Siqin) is introduced to various conmen and women in Shanghai. As she meets them we learn more about human emotions and how Auntie's idealistic world is rapidly changing. Auntie clings to ideals that people are good and we learn that people are just greedy, those old fashioned values no longer exist in modern Shanghai. However after a pleasant first half once she moves to Manchuria, we get the "ending" but not really what I expected. The film doesn't really wrap up other than we learn of Auntie's fate, that she has learned her lessons and just succumbs to ride out her last years in the freezing cold market in Manchuria. Pleasant to watch for the cinematography and soundtrack, as well as some solid acting. However, the message gets obscured a bit as the film spirals downward and gets downright depressing.

Zachary Long
Zachary Long

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