Eye For Film >> Movies >> Blind Mountain (2007) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Stanners
After making Blind Shaft in 2003, director Li Yang returns to similar themes of moral deception rooted amongst China’s emerging business class.
Bai Xuemei (Lu Huang) is a recent graduate looking to earn some money to pay back the college fees to her family. Duped into selling pharmaceuticals by a criminal disguised as a businessman, she awakes to find herself in a rural backwater of northern China, abandoned and sold into a family as the son’s bride.
From here on, her life borders on slavery, pandering to the violent drunken whims of her new husband who subjects her to rape, abuse and regular beatings. Never the hapless victim, Xuemei constantly looks for ways out, mixing with the other girls sold into nearby families for advice. Becoming pregnant her child means little to her. Hardened by her treatment over the long haul, her determination to escape increases, unlike the other girls who stop kicking and screaming after becoming pregnant and accept their doomed fate.
Each time Xuemei escapes, she is captured at the very last moment. The tension is heightened by the director, as he draws complete sympathy from the audience for Xuemei’s valiant efforts. Every time she turns to the local elder for help, thick red tape awaits her. When she tells the community chief/tax collector that she has been kidnapped, he plays deaf and dumb rather than risking being uprooted by the authorities.
Never satisfied, Xuemei continues to work in secret looking for an opening and the manifestation of rural China’s endemic corruption is illustrated in a poignant climax.
Once again Li Yang, has directed a fascinating portrayal of the contradictions inherent in the world’s fastest growing economy. Increasingly polarised between rich and poor, educated and non-educated, rural and urban, Yang brings together the most unsavoury elements of China’s urban and rural culture. Deeply unscrupulous businessmen making a buck through selling educated but non street-wise women into an archaic world of feudalism, where family ties and corrupt elders still rule the roost. Even when government officials wade in to the villages to assert their authority, progress is thwarted by red tape on top of red tape.
Huang Lu’s character is played convincingly with understated emotion, and gritty determination. Although naive, she adapts to her situation, without ever relinquishing hope. Pitted against the adversity of her situation, it is this indomitable spirit that keeps the audience gripped especially when she bounces back from one failed escape after another.
Like the message in Blind Shaft, Blind Mountain is a sad but true comment on modern China’s progress.Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2007