Under The Hawthorn Tree
recommended by 1 user
- 10 Feb 2011
- Running Time:
- 114 mins
- Drama, Romance
- Golden Village Pictures
- Zhang Yimou
- Dongyu Zhou, Shawn Dou
Set during the end of China's Cultural Revolution in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province, a pure love unfolds between beautiful city girl Jing Qiu (Dongyu Zhou) and a handsome young villager named Lao San (Shawn Dou). Jing Qiu, who lived a difficult life due to her father being labelled as a "right winger," is sent to the village at the age of 16 and meets Lao San, who has a promising future due to his father's high ranking military background. Even with the divide between their social backgrounds, romance blooms between the young couple but will their love ever become fulfilled?
Be yourself and tell the story in your tone and personality
Displaying 1-1 of 1 review
A film about the innocence of first love that should be admired for its artful simplicity.
21 Feb 2011After the debacle that was A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop (2009), a disappointing remake of the Coens’ Blood Simple (1984), Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou restores his reputation with his latest effort that is a nostalgic throwback to the pre-Hero period in the nineties that made the director one of the few Asian masters of the dramatic form. Under the Hawthorn Tree is clearly not Zhang at the top of his game, but it is a reminder of his talent in crafting powerful tearjerkers set in the various turbulent eras of China’s modern history.
Hawthorn Tree is similar to The Road Home (2000) in approach. It is a beautiful love story acted out by a competent cast, at times playful, at times emotional, but never too overtly sentimental. This is especially so for Hawthorn Tree, which some have described as “the purest love story ever told”, and I believe it just might be true. I have not seen a filmmaker approach the near-ancient notion of “love at first sight” and “the blossoming of a boy-girl romance” with such purity and subtlety in direction and narration in years.
Zhang has unearthed a new acting gem in Zhou Dongyu, a young actress who may just be the next “Gong Li”, that is if she continues to place herself under the director’s radar for the next decade. Like Zhang Ziyi, who similarly made her debut in The Road Home, Zhou’s acting is striking because she balances restrain with her natural ability to emote, the latter very potently displayed in the film’s final act. Her chemistry with the male lead, played by Shawn Dou, who is also a newcomer, is strong enough for Zhang to heavily rely on to engage viewers.
As always for every Zhang film, the cinematography by Zhao Xiaoding (an Oscar nominee for House of Flying Daggers (2004)), is stunning, as the film captures and juxtaposes the misty villages with dusty urban buildings in great visual detail. Admirers of Zhang’s visual style however would notice that Hawthorn Tree does not feature the flamboyant colors that characterize most of his works such as Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Hero (2002), and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). Yes, the color palette is more muted here, and there is a reason for it.
I would think Zhang desires to paint a more poetic picture rather than being unnecessarily grandeur. After all, this is a film about the innocence of first love. With Under the Hawthorn Tree, Zhang has made a romance picture that is not only memorable for the star performance by Zhou, but also admirable for the film’s artful simplicity.
All rights reserved.I watched this movie for: Director, Cinematography
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful
Was it helpful to you?