Monday, April 4, 2016
TO LIVE (1994)
China 1940's. You Ge is married Li Gong. They have a young daughter and live in his family's home along with his mother and father. A normal heterosexual male would spend his spare time trying to make sweet love to the beautiful Li, but You has a massive gambling addiction and instead spends his nights in a gambling den. He's not very good at it and soon looses all of his family's wealth (including their home) to the gambling den's owner. Little does he know it, but this is the best possible thing that could have happened to him.
Yimou Zhang's TO LIVE is an amazing film and for somebody like me who knows very little about the history of the People's Republic of China it's a fantastic fictional introduction into what life was like for normal people in China during the "Mao era". I'm sure millions of darker details were left out, but as it is I was still totally wrapped up in the ups and downs (mostly downs) that this family went through.
Masterful storytelling that made the 125 minute runtime absolutely fly by, wonderful direction, top level acting (especially by You Ge and Li Gong), beautiful music...I've watched TO LIVE many times over the years and each time I get lost in the story and think about it for days afterward. Highly recommended. Probably Yimou Zhang's best film.
Fun fact: I typed this entire review with my left hand since my cat (Susie) is asleep and snoring on my right hand/arm.