Shower

This likable comedy-drama from mainland China cogently demonstrates that some of the best old-style Hollywood pictures nowadays are apt to come from almost anywhere except Hollywood. This is a nostalgic look at the last days of a traditional bathhouse before it's leveled for urban renewal, a movie about community that actually calls to mind something like The Last Picture Show. Zhu Xu (who turned up recently in the title role of The King of Masks) is very effective as the old man who runs the bathhouse, and so are the actors playing the mentally challenged son who lives and works with him and an older son who comes to visit. Writers Liu Fen Dou and Cai Xiang Jun and director Zhang Yang move freely and gracefully between fantasy and reality in this sentimental 2000 film, which never becomes as trite or calculated as you might fear, maybe because mentally challenged characters aren't the same kind of standbys in Chinese cinema as they are on Oscar night. In Mandarin with subtitles. 92 min.

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