Review: ‘Gone is the One Who Held Me Dearest in the World’

Beneath the clumsy, meller-ish title lurks a surprisingly unmelodramatic pic in "Gone Is the One Who Held Me Dearest in the World." Based on an autobiographical novel about a middle-aged woman caring for her dying, fractious mother, solid first picture by writer-director Ma Xiaoying treats its emotional subject with relative objectivity.

Beneath the clumsy, meller-ish title lurks a surprisingly unmelodramatic pic in “Gone Is the One Who Held Me Dearest in the World.” Based on an autobiographical novel about a middle-aged woman caring for –and trying to bond with — her dying, fractious mother, solid first picture by writer-director Ma Xiaoying treats its emotional subject with relative objectivity. Film has strong potential for ethnic webs.

He (Siqin Gaowa), a 50-year-old, successful writer, witnesses the death of her mother (Huang Suying); next, pic flashes back to how she got there. Ma has done her best to smooth the original novel (written in the form of a diary) into a conventional narrative, but it’s still basically episodic as it details the mother’s worsening mental problems, their diagnosis, her decision to go for an operation and — the most substantial section — her apparent recovery and sudden decline. Ma’s directing style is unaffected, giving plenty of space to the actors, among whom Huang is terrific as the feisty, argumentative old mother. However, Siqin Gaowa, despite a physically and emotionally busy perf, makes a rather cold protag.

Gone is the One Who Held Me Dearest in the World

China

Production

A Beijing Hebang Film & TV Cultural Development Co., Beijing Contemporary Kunlun Cultural Broadcasting Co., China Film Group, Beijing Film Studio, Beijing Forbidden City Film Co. production. (International sales: Beijing Film Studio, Beijing.) Produced by Zhang Bin, Tian Hong, Yang Buting, Zhou Puxiong. Executive producers, Tong Gang, Lu Ying, Wang Jianqiu, Zheng Zhenxiu. Directed, written by Ma Xiaoying, based on the novel by Zhang Jie.

Crew

Camera (color), Gao Fei; editor, Zhang Jianhua; music, Ding Wei; art director, Li Ke. Reviewed on videocassette, London, July 27, 2003. (In Far East Film Festival, Udine, Italy.) Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 97 MIN.

Cast

With: Siqin Gaowa, Huang Suying, Shi Weijian, Zhang Shengxian, Gong Beibi, Liu Jian, Liu Jinxi, Meng Qingbao.
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