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Springtime In a Small Town (2004)

Jingfan Hu , Jun Wu , Zhuangzhuang Tian  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jingfan Hu, Jun Wu, Bai Qing Xin, Xiao Keng Ye, Si Si Lu
  • Directors: Zhuangzhuang Tian
  • Writers: Cheng Ah, Mu Fei, Tianji Li
  • Producers: Alain Vannier, Buting Yang, Eric Heumann, Marc Sillam, Michael J. Werner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00062133A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,753 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Springtime In a Small Town" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

A lovingly crafted remake of a 40's Chinese classic, SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN explores a love triangle in a provincial town the year after war has ended with Japan. The eight-year marriage of Dai Liyan (Wu Jun) and Yuwen (Hu Jing Fan) has left them both unfulfilled and distant. An unexpected visitor arrives from Shanghai, a smartly-dressed doctor call Zhang Zhichen (Bai Qing). He's an old schoolfriend of Dai Liyan's and unbeknownst to her husband, Yuwen's childhood sweetheart. Delighted to be re-acquainted with Zhang, the husband believes that his cultivated guest would be a suitable match for his wife's lively school girl sister, Dai Xiu (Lu Sisi). In turn, Yuwen believes that her former flame could be the solution to her own unhappiness. Elegantly shot in long takes and drifting tracking shots by cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing (In The Mood For Love, Millennium Mambo), this is a tightly controlled tale of thwarted desires.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars mesmerizing human drama July 17, 2005
Format:DVD
Set in the days immediately following World War II, the Chinese film "Springtime in a Small Town" is a poetic, slow-moving meditation on the part that love, passion, compromise, self-sacrifice and renewal play in our lives and our relationships.

Liyan and Yuwen are a young married couple living in the crumbling ancestral home of the man's deceased parents. Struggling under the burden of an arranged marriage, Liyan and Yuwen have been drifting farther and farther apart over time - he obsessing over his chronic health problems (possibly psychosomatic in nature) and she secretly yearning for a more fulfilling life away from this man who seems not to care for her. Then one day, Zhang, an old boyhood pal of Liyan's, comes to pay a visit. Now a doctor, Zhang is shocked to discover that Liyan's wife is Yuwen, the very woman whom he loved but left ten years earlier. Tensions very quickly develop in the household as Zhang and Yuwen begin to take steps towards rekindling their romance - forcing each of the three individuals to come to terms with long unresolved desires and emotions.

In its quiet, subtle way, "Springtime in a Small Town" explores what happens when human emotions and passions are repressed under the weight of societal restrictions and cultural traditions. Writer Cheng Ah and director Zhuangzhuang Tian unfold their story slowly, never feeling the need to rev up the action or overemphasize a detail to make a point. The film establishes a hypnotic rhythm and a tone of quiet contemplation from the outset, allowing us to soak in all that is happening on the screen at our own leisure. For despite the fact that there may not SEEM to be a lot happening in the film, there is actually a wealth of human drama taking place right beneath the placid surface of the tale.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Meaning in Simplicity February 14, 2005
Format:DVD
Tian Zhuangzhuang, director of THE BLUE KITE, pays homage to the founders of Chinese cinema in this marvelous remake of a 1940's classic. SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN is an intensely personal tale of loss and ruin, alienation and suppressed desire in the period shortly after the Japanese invasion has been repelled.

The story line is starkly simple. Zhang Zhichen, a young doctor, arrives to visit his former classmate Dai Liyan whom he hasn't seen for ten years. Zhang discovers that he was formerly neighbors with Dai's wife, Yu Wen. Yu Wen is completely estranged from her husband - they can barely look at one another, let alone make physical contact or show affection. Zhang's appearance in her home causes Yu Wen's to realize what she has lost in her life and sparks her desire for almost any expression of warmth and human emotion. She attempts to seduce Zhang, but he rejects her advances. Meanwhile, Dai recognizes the suffering he has caused his wife and takes an overdose of sleeping pills in order to free her.

Tian paints a minimalist portrait of here, so slight it could as easily be a theatrical performance as cinema. The entire cast consists of just five characters - Dai, Yu, Zhang, Dai's 16-year-old sister, and the family's elderly servant, Huang. Outside the house on the streets, along the country paths, and on the nearby canals, not a soul is seen for the entire movie, as if the entire world had died except these five people. Although the Dai family home survived the Japanese bombardment (through a fortuitous rainfall), the aging house lays in partial ruin, and the surrounding neighborhood is filled with crumbling walls and demolished homes. The scene is nothing if not post-apocalyptic. Yet in the nearby countryside, we see gauzy and sensuous vistas of natural beauty.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Must Believe In "Spring" February 7, 2005
Format:DVD
"Springtime in a Small Town" is director Tian Zhuangzhuang's first film in 10 years after being banned when his film "The Blue Kite" was released. "Kite" told a political story, here with "Springtime" Zhuangzhuang plays it safe by remaking the 1948 film "Spring in a Small Town". A post WW2 love story.

But, don't think the film is really all that simple. Lurking behind the scenes is a story that, in a subtle way, challenges in social customs of the times.

Zhang Zhichen (Bai Qing) and Yuwen (Hu Jing Fan) were childhood sweathearts, but, there was no matchmaker involved so the two could never get married. Then war broke out.

10 years have passed and now Yuwen is married to Dai Liyan (Wu Jun). Though things are not going well. Liyan is sick and the marriage is now a loveless one. That is to say if these two were ever in love to begin with.

Zhichen enters both of their lives again as he knows Liyan. Both Liyan doesn't know the past wife and Zhichen share.

The movie is beautifully told. The cinematography captures a tenderness to the story. And Zhuangzhuang displays his terrific eye as a director. The script manages to avoid several cliches that would have appeared if this were an American film. In which case it would have been a overly sentimental WW2 story. Think "Waterloo Bridge".

"Springtime in a Small Town" is really more than just a love story, although if as you watch it you see nothing more, that's fine, the story still works as an old-fashion love triangle.

Bottom-line: Not as emotionally involving as Zhuangzhuang's last film, it is still a lovely told story dealing with social customs and regrets of the past and regrets that are still to come.
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