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That's all the character development I need. This is an ambitious film about the stalled maturation of an idealistic but troubled young woman flanked by the Tiananmen Square protests, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the handover of Hong Kong to mainland China. The film spans a decade and a half from 1987 to 2003 so I guess the misery of Three Gorges Dam couldn't make the final cut. The direction is a little chaotic at times but it reflects the nature of the film and doesn't come off as too much of a liability. The soundtrack is impeccably chosen and the film is ultimately very sad. I was glued to this 140 minute masterpiece. Politics aside, and they are on the side, this is a remarkable film in its honest portrayal of failure, not of personal character necessarily, but of circumstance.
This is another film that got its director and producer banned for five years from making films in China. Maybe it's the full-frontal nudity or the sheer quantity of sex scenes but I don't see the need for hubbub. The film is about a woman's self-reflection on why she finds comfort in the arms of different men. We see her naked inside and out. She is afraid to love out of fear, fear of something she hasn't yet experienced, but isn't that the scariest kind of fear?
There are a number of things wrong with the film, perhaps, but very little could be done to improve it. Great films succeed in spite of their weaknesses. I'm not a fan of off camera narration but it works for me here. It seems additional rather than necessary. There is a maturity to the woman's voice as she narrates with entries from her diary that compliments, does not seem at odds with, the can't-quite-grow-up activities of the woman on screen.Read more ›
"Summer Palace" plays almost like the autopsy of a romantic obsession, attempting to get at the root of why we love in the way that we do. A novice at true love, Yu Hong understands neither her undying passion for Zhou Wei nor her seemingly incessant need to keep sabotaging their relationship. The closest she can come to grasping this paradox is when she says to Zhou Wei: "I want to break up...because I can't leave you." Love is seen almost as a form of mental illness in this film - as a debilitating, all-consuming condition that one is powerless to control or "cure" but which, if left unchecked, can become the single dominant force in a person's life (we rarely see Yu Hong studying, let alone going to class). One can attempt to fill the void with other loves, but the heart always comes back to the same place.
"Summer Palace" is long and occasionally repetitious and the political aspects aren`t as effectively integrated into the story as they perhaps might have been, but the movie is beautifully acted by Lei Hao and Xiaodong Guo, among others, and features incisive and sensitive direction by Ye Lou (who, along with Feng Mei and Ma Yingli, co-authored the screenplay).Read more ›
For anyone who has ever thought of sex as a good passing time, this film is a reminder that sex can also scar a parson forever. It is also a film that reflects on the fact that all revolutions, no matter how big or small are spontaneous and held by the masses no matter how innocent they are. Chinese governement was ready to supress students by using all means necessary and it was a lesson for all because in the last 20 years one cannot say we have heard of any other uprising there since. Although film feels like dragging at times, and some of the sex scenes are unnecessary it is a haunting story about time and a place for one of a kind love that cannot be recaptured ever again. It is kind of love that leave everyone involved damaged (or dead) forever.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The film was very moving and thoughtful. You get an inside glimpse into a particular aspect of Asian culture both on a personal and political level. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Integrity Todd
Love is confusing, strange and incomprehensible. True. Look beyond the political chaos, its a perfect gem. Read morePublished on November 27, 2012 by Dbainysun
Summer Palace seems to be widely heralded as one of the top few Chinese films in recent decades. The synopsis portrays this story as the development of a young woman who encounters... Read morePublished on August 21, 2012 by BZ
Very good Chinese movie, true life, true story, true mood, just true
Chinese were liberated in the 1980's. Read more
"Summer Palace" is a slow and dreary drama. The main character, a young woman played by Lei Hao, is depressed for no apparent reason, and watching her drift through her life is as... Read morePublished on January 18, 2012 by Tycereom
I wasted hours on this film because it won awards and got great reviews. Now I feel I have to say something. Read morePublished on October 16, 2011 by Amazon Customer
Ye Lou's ambitious film ends up being a film that demonstrates a couple of truths about filmmaking. First of all, you need a strong narrative drive and sympathetic (or, at the very... Read morePublished on March 21, 2011 by Paul Healy
Filled with non-stop sex, punctuated by the political events of the times--such as the Tiananmen Square student protests of 1989--this film follows a young girl from the Chinese... Read morePublished on September 21, 2010 by Timothy D. Naegele