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The Story of Lotus

A fairly standard rural Chinese drama, centered on the travails of a young widow, "The Story of Lotus" is notable for the unmelodramatic treatment of potentially melodramatic material, and crisp lensing in the Wuyi mountains of northern Fujian province. Solid, mid-range fare is good fodder for audience-friendly fests and worth a look by Asiaphiles.

Cast:
With: Bian Xiaoxiao, Li Xinmin, Wang Junyi, Lin Peng.

A fairly standard rural Chinese drama, centered on the travails of a young widow, “The Story of Lotus” is notable for the unmelodramatic treatment of potentially melodramatic material, and beautifully crisp lensing in the Wuyi mountains of northern Fujian province. Solid, mid-range fare is good fodder for audience-friendly fests and worth a look by Asiaphiles. It’s several notches above helmer Qi Jian’s previous sports-centered pics, “Female Coach & Male Player” (aka “Team Spirit”) and “Baseball Boys.”

Widowed by a quarry accident, Lotus (Bian Xiaoxiao, limpidly graceful) is left to raise her small baby on the tea-drying farm owned by her unfriendly father-in-law, Sanbao (Li Xinmin, in pic’s strongest perf). Tricked by the oily quarry manager (Lin Peng) out of a decent compensation but befriended by a young, divorced bus driver (Wang Junyi), Lotus is torn between being a single mother or finding a new father for her child. Four-character story is shot through with moralistic underpinnings but is naturally played, especially in scenes where Lotus and Sanbao gradually work out a way to co-exist. Pic’s sole technical blip is Zhang Shaotong’s overwrought music score.

The Story of Lotus

Production: A Fujian China Film Studio production. (International sales: FCFS, Fuzhou.) Produced by Yao Wentai. Executive producer, Zhuo Jiarui. Directed by Qi Jian. Screenplay, Qiu Shi, Li Pingping, based on the novella "The New Widow" (Xin gua) by Tao Shaohong.

Crew: Camera (color), Li Ming, Zhang Hao; editor, Zhou Xinxia; music, Zhang Shaotong; art director, Yu Qiang. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Asia), Aug. 31, 2003. Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Bian Xiaoxiao, Li Xinmin, Wang Junyi, Lin Peng.

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