Springtime in a Small Town (Xiao cheng zhi chun) (2002)
Critic Consensus: Director Tian Zhuangzhuang's remake of the 1948 Chinese classic may be too measured in pace for some audiences, but it's a visually sumptuous, well-acted piece.
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Critic Reviews for Springtime in a Small Town (Xiao cheng zhi chun)
The result is paradoxically more theatrical than the original -- but thanks to serene cinematography and superb design, sumptuously so.
Only a director who truly knows repression could have made a movie so subtle and so understanding.
Springtime in a Small Town moves at a leisurely pace. And because it's a work of taste and tact, you can watch it in a pleasurable state.
Reinventing his source just as boldly as he has reinvented his artistic identity, Tian circumvents the usual mentality of remakes by making his material brand-new.
This isn't a radical film by any means, but in its gentle tempo, its avoidance of the obvious and stubborn insistence on the decency of its three touchingly human characters, 'Springtime in a Small Town' weighs in as refreshingly, pleasurably different.
Audience Reviews for Springtime in a Small Town (Xiao cheng zhi chun)
Springtime in a small town was a slow movie.The set was beautiful and I was really waiting for something special to increase my interest in this movie but it never happened. The movie was boring, it only had 5 people in the movie and it was almost two hours long which was totally unnecessary. Most of dialogues were slow and meaningless. The movie tone was also dark,which felt so depressing to watch. I know this was a remake of a 1948 version, which I heard the original version was way better.My problem with Springtime was despite the beauty, there was no depth to the story.
A quiet, slow paced film. Rich character development, a subtle love triangle, and a taste of Chinese culture from the period after the war and before the Revolution, the film still has the power to draw one in. The story revolves around a man and his wife, his sister, their servant, and the friend who comes to visit. The scenery is austere, the camera work is engaging, the acting is passable. One wishes he understood more of the customs of the times, but the overall sense of the film is genuine. No explosions and no fireworks, just a view of another time and place, this film is not for audiences who crave the adrenalin rush. Just add thought and rumination for a pleasurable experience. Three and a half stars. One note: this viewer found it humorous to hear a Chinese schoolgirl singing a native folk song to the tune of a Strauss waltz! Who knew?
Plotwise it's sort of a cross between In the Mood for Love and Days of Heaven. So at the heart of it is a love triangle. I am usually biased against stories involving love triangles, and a lot of this film has the same things that I dislike about the situation, but it succeeds in subtly presenting believable characters that you can relate to unlike say Jules and Jim, so overall it didn't bother me as much as I thought. The lush cinematography by Mark Lee Ping-bin and the brilliant use metaphors like with Tian's previous film The Blue Kite does make it one a cut above your average melodrama. Since this is a remake of a 1940s film the narrative style is pretty old fashioned. I went to watch this thinking that I would see the original film, often hailed as the greatest Chinese film ever, hopefully I'll see that on DVD someday.
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