To Live ★★★½

Years ago, this came off to me as The Puppetmaster for Dummies, and I think time has only continued to chip away at the validity of its approach. Owing more to Two Stage Sisters or even The Good Earth than more clear-eyed epics by Jia or Tian, its simplistic view of history comes across as a series of sadistic melodramatic tragedies that only serve to personalize the passage of time beyond recognition. While this approach frequently is maudlin, the film is well-performed and ultimately affecting. In any case, a better attempt at constructing a national myth than the fashionable, hopelessly cynical worldviews espoused by contemporary filmmakers such as Mungiu and Farhadi...


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