South of the Clouds

Zhu Wen's second feature (2003) gently and patiently limns a subtle portrait of a pensioner (Li Xuejian) who years earlier turned down the chance to relocate to Yunnan province in southern China. Dissatisfied with his life in a big northern city, he sets off alone on a journey to re-create the Yunnan “past” he never had, only to land in a world of fantasy wish fulfillment and absurdist modern farce, of gently exoticized eroticism and sexual blackmail. This aboveground film pulls no punches as it contrasts the richness of the lives of the people who came of age during the Cultural Revolution and the spiritual emptiness of the current generation. In Mandarin with subtitles. 100 min.

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