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Ever since I watched and loved Still Life, I’ve been meaning to watch this documentary. Both films explore a lot of the same themes and given that Jia’s film feels like a documentary, I couldn’t help comparing the two. While this didn’t match up to my experience watching Still Life, I still found it really engaging and moving. For one thing, the visuals are amazing to look at (I wish I had time to post screenshots but I have more Filmspot movies to watch). At the heart of this film too lies the question of the cost of economic progress and modernity in China. The scene where Yu Shui’s mother is explaining their reasons for sending her away is completely devastating as is the long shot of her father carrying the huge dresser up the hill before the flood. I think jbissell mentioned in his review that he felt like it could’ve been two films with the director’s personal history being a separate story altogether. I didn’t really mind that and almost felt that Chang’s need to reacquaint himself with this river that he has only heard stories made for a really personal moment in the documentary. Here again, the abandoned city on the banks of the river, waiting to be flooded felt almost unreal. This is definitely going on top of my ballot for Best Documentary Film.

Grade: B

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