movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Farewell My Concubine / Bawang Bie Ji


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  Farewell My Concubine / Bawang Bie Ji  Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
 
Average Rating
7.67 /10
 
Starring
Leslie Cheung , Zhang Fengwi , Gong Li
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Chen Kaige
Written by: Chen Kaige from Lilian Lee's novel

 
 
 
Released: 1993
   
Genre: EPIC
DRAMA
FOREIGN
   
Origin: Hong Kong/ China
   
Length: 170
 
 


 

Visually magnificent epic which tries to tell the history of twentieth-century China via three characters: a female impersonator at the Chinese Opera (Leslie Cheung), his more masculine co-star (Zhang Fengwi) and the latter’s ex-prostitute wife (Gong Li).

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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It is hard to sympathise with the characters’ enthusiasm for China’s operatic tradition, the characters age inconsistently, and the plot progresses by equally arbitrary leaps and bounds. It's particularly hard to see why the final, climactic catharsis occurs precisely when it does, and not years earlier (if it needed to happen at all: it doesn't in the book). But it is easy to forgive the flaws in a film which attempts so much, and looks so gorgeous. The Oscar-nominated director of photography, Gu Changwei, also responsible for Ju Dou and Raise The Red Lantern , is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular practitioners of his art in the world. It shared the Palme d'Or at Cannes with The Piano.

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