Review: ‘Postmen in the Mountains’

Hunan mail always gets through in "Postmen in the Mountains," a delicately drawn portrait of cross-generational bonding in which a father hands over his 112-kilometer rural postal route to his son. Too slim to make much impression outside fests, this nevertheless reps another solid outing by former art director Huo Jianqi.

The Hunan mail always gets through in “Postmen in the Mountains,” a delicately drawn portrait of cross-generational bonding in which a father hands over his 112-kilometer rural postal route to his son. Too slim to make much impression outside fests, this nevertheless reps another solid outing by former art director Huo Jianqi, who worked with director Tian Zhuangzhuang in the ’80s.

Father (Teng Rujun) and son (Liu Ye) set out at dawn with their faithful dog for the three-day round trip on foot, delivering mail to a clutch of remote villages, separated by winding rivers and lush hills, in southern China. As they travel, and the pic briefly flashes back to their younger days, during which the father was always coming and going, each learns a little more about the other. The 24-year-old son also discovers that the postman is a human artery between the isolated, often illiterate communities. Nicely shot without over-poeticizing the landscape, and unaffectedly played, it’s a gentle character piece, sans grand emotions and stressing conservative values. Print caught was a tad too blue in the processing.

Postmen in the Mountains

China

Production

A Xiaoxiang Film Studio/Beijing Film Studio/Hunan Postal Service production, in association with Xiaoxiang TV. Produced by Kang Jianmin, Han Sanping. Executive producers, Ouyang Changlin, Shi Jiuhui, Li Xiaogeng. Directed by Huo Jianqi. Screenplay, Si Wu, based on the short story by Peng Jianming.

Crew

Camera (color), Zhao Lei; editors, Gan Xinrong, Liu Fang; music, Wang Xiaofeng; art director, Song Jun. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (competing), Aug. 30, 1999. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Teng Rujun, Liu Ye, Zhao Xiuli

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