Seventeen Years (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Seventeen Years (1999)

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In this drama, a woman seeks reconciliation with her family after an act of shocking violence, though forgiveness may not be forthcoming. Two divorced single parents (Liang Song and Le Yeping) marry, each bringing with them a teenage daughter. Xiaoqin (Li Jun), Mother's daughter, is strong-willed and proudly working-class, intending to get a job in a factory when she finishes school. Xiaolan (Liu Lin), a bit younger and Father's child, is more intellectual and hopes to go on to college. One day, a petty argument between the step-sisters over some change turns ugly; Xiaolan hits Xiaoqiun over the head with a stick, and to the shock of everyone Xiaoqiun dies. Xiaolan is convicted of murder and sentenced to a long stay in prison; after 17 years, a handful of prisoners are released on furlough for New Years, including Xiaolan. When Xiaolan's parents don't arrive to pick her up, she's left stranded; a guard, Chen Jie (Li Bingbing), takes pity on Xiaolan and offers to give her a ride home. However, they soon discover Xiaolan's home has been torn down and her folks have moved. Chen Jie is determined Xiaolan will spend New Year with her family, though Xiaolan herself starts to wonder if they have any desire to see her. Guonian Huijia marked something of a comeback for director Zhang Yuan after several projects that caused him run-ins with the Chinese government; this film was released concurrently with his documentary feature Crazy English. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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