Film Review: To Love Again (2022) by Gao Linyang

Whereas typing these phrases I’ve discovered that “To Love Once more”, a splendidly completed drama by the Chinese language director Gao Linyang, was one of many two winners of the Tiger Competitors Particular Jury Award in Rotterdam which comes with the cash prize of 10.000€. Only a few individuals had been fortunate to expertise the movie on web site in one of many theatres. For many of us who needed to observe the pageant on-line, watching the movie didn’t even current itself as a chance because the right-holders determined towards making it accessible to all accredited professionals. It took me some time to safe an invite to look at this movie, and each second of the wait paid off.

Nederland, Rotterdam, 11/01/2021,

iffr vlaggen op de boompjes,

foto Jan de Groen

Gao Linyang’s skillfully crafted debut opens with the well-known Marriage ceremony March from “A Midsummer Night time’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn, a normal piece one hears in movies which have one thing to do with weddings, or for that matter – at weddings one attends in actual life. Perhaps not essentially in China, however what would I do know. The instances have modified, so may as nicely the native music selections. However keep assured that every one romance associated to the Marriage ceremony March might be washed away the second you understand that there’s a mass marriage ceremony occurring, a apply common in China the place such apply is much away from being thought of as one thing awkward or of ‘much less worth’. For a median westerner, it’s a nightmare coming to life.

Li (Bi Yanjun) and Nie or Suzhen (Liao Xueqiu) have simply had the renewall of their vows. Nobody else besides good pals and fellow-church goers Meijuan (Liao Xueqiu) and Ge (Bi Yanjun) had been current, however for a similar cause – renewing their very own vows as nicely. In lack of curiosity by their youngsters who didn’t present up for the picture shoot, Li & Nie’s marriage ceremony picture must be photoshopped. It is going to ultimately get the central place within the livingroom in all its pretend glory.

Gao Linyang’s mild method the lifetime of a married couple does typically really feel like watching an observational documentary, and her manner of telling their story is really spectacular. There are many tiny items of the puzzle that fall into place, constructing an enchanting image of a relationship based mostly on understanding and care, and on tolerance of one another’s imprerfections and the previous. The calmness with which all subjects get mentioned, even those who may doubtlessly trigger missunderstandings and even break-ups, level out at a bond deeper than one can understand with eyes and ears.

Proper after their vibrant marriage ceremony occasion, Nie – nonetheless very a lot below the impression – is on the cellphone together with her stepson who lives within the States, making an attempt to explain him what they’ve simply skilled. “It was a gaggle of oldies all dressed up, nevertheless it nonetheless felt like an actual factor”, she tells him. For her, the spotlight was to have the ability to put on a marriage costume, a comodity forbidden below the strict communist regime again within the Sixties.

The previous will get talked about extra typically than as soon as in the course of the movie, as it’s looking each spouses. On one event, Li will get a phonecall from his hometown in Shanxi which informs him that his late spouse’s grave might be eliminated quickly. He both has to go there to discover a new place for her, or get her ashes dwelling. His suggestion that possibly all three of them ‘ought to rejoice’ collectively doesn’t upset his present spouse of 30 years who drily remarks that he may as nicely be burried alongside his ex, because the grave was paid for upfront. Or possibly splitting the ashes, she suggests, in order that she may be half-burried with him, and half together with her shaped husband. She was married earlier than as nicely, it seems, however clearly to not a sort man she thought he was. Particulars about her ex will come out of a deep shadow, reveiling his merciless nature motivated/ impressed by the cultural revolution in 1966.

The seek for the very best shared urn will grow to be one of many movie’s central items because the image of concurrently embracing and bidding farewell to the previous, and discovering peace with the now.

Nie helps the native church with a daily dance occasion within the open house which is sadly additionally reserved for all types of noisy actions, even capturing on the balloons. Whereas the {couples} are perfecting their dance strikes, Nie is doing the bureaucratic a part of the job. Li is a conservator who works on the restauration of sculptures and collectible figurines, and one can see that the couple leads a comparatively comfy life.

Cinematographer Shen Junyi frames the actors like portray sujets frozen in the correct second. The heat of orange and yellow hues makes the house atmosphere pleasant and approachable, calling us to witness small day by day rituals and care the spouses present for one another.



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