Review: ‘Six Sisters in the War’

"Six Sisters in the War" is an above-average rural drama centered on distaffers caught up in a nearby military conflict.

A strong female ensemble and down-to-earth approach by journeyman director Wang Ping make “Six Sisters in the War” an above-average rural drama centered on distaffers caught up in a nearby military conflict. Cleanly lensed drama, set in a Shandong village during the crucial Menglianggu Campaign between communists and nationalists in 1947, scored an OK 10 million-plus yuan ($1.5 million) on local release in September. Pic is solid fodder for fest sidebars and ethnic webs.

Inspired by real women shown in the end credits, the script by noted writer Si Wu (“Life Show,” “Postman in the Mountains”) follows six women from various families as the (largely offscreen) civil war impacts their feudal existence. The central character is good-hearted Zhang Yuefen (Li Nian), a bride whose conscripted husband isn’t even present at their wedding. Others include her sister-in-law, Chunying (Liu Lin), whose husband has already died on the front line; bullied, onetime child bride Heiyan (dark-eyed Cao Cuifen, good), who rebels against her domineering mother-in-law; optimistic teen Xiuxiu (Zhang Xuan), and gung-ho local cadre Wang Lanhua (Fan Zhibo, excellent). Episodic construction, larded with lighter moments, builds satisfyingly to a quietly affecting coda.

Six Sisters in the War

China

Production

A Hua Xia Film Distribution Co. release of a Shandong Film Studio, Beijing Jindian Film Co., Hua Xia Film Distribution Co. production. (International sales: Beijing Jingle Culture Development Co., Beijing.) Produced by Shen Wugang. Executive producers, Wang Ping, Zhang Baoquan, Gu Guoqing. Directed by Wang Ping. Screenplay, Si Wu.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sun Ming; editor, Zhan Haihong; music, Tong Yu, Li Jia; art director, Tong Yonggang. Reviewed on DVD, London, Dec. 28, 2009. (In Beijing Screenings.) Original title: Yimeng liu jiemei. Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

With: Fan Zhibo, Liu Lin, Li Nian, Zhang Xuan, Cao Yuan, Wang Shasha, Cao Cuifen, Li Xinmin.

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