‘I’m not Madame Bovary’ is an unprecedented insight into Contemporary China.

Two months ago, we saw how it was a very important year for Chinese-language cinema – a review that stands despite the release of the Berlinale-winner. Cross section. Well, it appears that the Central Government may have a surprise at the end of the year or two on its hands. After receiving the FIPRESCI award in Toronto and the prestigious Red Sea in San Sebastián, I I am not Madame Bovary a good return for the old manager Xiaogang Feng it, while not quite hitting the ball out of the park, offers a truly humorous and simple view of contemporary China complete with a lush, absurdist flair.

A lot of cultural quotes offer a sense of humor like this, but get lost in translation starting with the title. Instead of Flaubert’s famous work, our heroine Li Xuelian (played by Paper Bingbing) refused to stay. This other mythological figure from 17th century China enjoyed a higher level of fame/popularity and became a derogatory term for unfaithful, deceitful women under China’s virtuous patriarchal culture. Using the style of oil paintings in the style of ancient erotica, the film briefly shows the story of Pan Jinlian. For the locals this may seem like a big deal, however, keeping an eye open will prepare you for the experiences to come.

Informed by the narrator, we know that things started more than ten years ago with a legal dispute. Ms. Li, braving the rain, stumbles upon seeing and looking for a judge who she hopes can help her get rid of her estranged husband – again. The cuckoo-sounding plot blossoms into an episode when we discover the cause of her pain and follow this determined farmer woman, making her case for the corporate ladder all the way to Beijing. Ten years will pass, names will be called, hearts will be broken again, and the will to fight will be rekindled. But most importantly, the humble nature of the whole government will be used in its most important subjects.

Edited by Zhenyun Liu from his own story, I am not Madame Bovary smartly decide on a story that is not against or against the government, a simple difference that often determines the outcome of Chinese products with political content. On the one hand, it shows how much grit it takes to dig into an old state machine plagued by inefficiency and old thinking. On the other hand, he acts without complaint, choosing to watch the absurdities escalate with the false confidence of a new citizen in power. So when we see the county judge’s attempt to enforce the rule of law and maintain an impartial hearing in the separate divorce case of Ms. to do with, the joke on the threat system now tries awkwardly to play catch-up – the strong sarcasm, but his voice benign.

Like his compatriots Yimou Zhang, Kaige Chen and Wen Jiang among others, Feng was among the first wave of post-Cultural Revolution filmmakers often referred to as China’s “fifth generation ” of the leaders. Surviving the cataclysmic event helps ground their work in realism and sharpens their understanding of the problems and joys of the underprivileged. And while Zhang and Co. who made their names creating complex, award-winning plays, Feng used that special knowledge for comedies and became very famous for them. His make-on command of everyday language and its nuances is on display here (if only partially provided in subtitles), sending verbal messages flying through the vernacular. , intonation, cadence and innuendoes. The (mis-)communication between characters of different characters and social situations sounds real every time and gives constant pleasure.

I am not Madame Bovary 1

What is even more surprising is that Feng’s search for an outside adventurer, status quo, and a common experimental style. Taking it a step further from his dialogue romcom extraordinaire If you are the one, he throws elements of Stephen Chow slapstick and Coen-esque quirkiness into the mix to give the film some bona fide funny moments. When the lawmen and party workers pull out all the stops to catch a rogue farmer’s wife, for example, there is a decisive Hollywood drama that brings things to a close. higher. But the most important sign of doing self-work in the midst of good work is the boldness of the knowledge of Bovary. As predicted by the trailer, about half of the film is set on a wide field of view in the middle of the screen, as if it is seen in the peephole or the bottom of the telescope. The other half of the time – whenever the story moves to Beijing, that is – the circle slowly morphs into a similar oblong, blocking most of the left and right spaces. right. It is not immediately clear why Feng chose different characters, except that, on an instinctive level, they add to the overall atmosphere of the game, making the story better and sharpening its edge. In addition, this creates the illusion of reading a comic strip in the image inspired by the excellent design that brings everything together. Some of the best action sequences are made in their design and set aside, in fact, they carry a whiff of Wes Anderson.

This is to say, to the relief of Chinese film buffs everywhere, I am not Madame Bovary offers an alternative to the many buyers or arthouse lovers who are coming from the Far East this year. A long middle section is destroyed after the new building is finished, but the two sections are revived at the end of the game, and Xiaogang Feng, with his signature dry and creative juices Again, there are many signs on this. because of confusion.

I am not Madame Bovary open limited release at Friday, November 18.

Grade: B+

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