Raise The Red Lantern (China 1991)

Rating: **
Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Gong Li

This movie from mainland China is so bleak, barren, and depressing that I couldn't watch it all in one sitting. In fact, I couldn't even finish watching it at all. It has a serious art film feel to it, to the point where it even feels like it was just shot on video as a home movie (which it obviously wasn't). This is a character and dialog driven film, and as a film there is nothing remarkable about it. The characters don't do anything, the camera never moves, there is no musical score, and there's hardly any sound whatsoever. One extremely nice touch, however, is the way that the viewer never sees the face of "the master," since the film is not a story about him, but a story about all of his women. Not a bad film, just not my kind of film at all. And the exquisite Gong Li proves once and for all that she has cornered the market on the "hopeless and tormented woman" look.

The most annoying thing about this film is that the subtitles lag about a half second behind the dialog - this is infuriating! Also, the print quality doesn't seem to be that great and nearly all of the text in the film is unreadable.