All Apologies

Struggling to sidestep the melodrama implicit in its true-story inspiration, "All Apologies" ends up being merely flat.

With: Cheng Taishen, Yang Shuting, Liang Jing, Gao Jin. (Mandarin dialogue)

Struggling to sidestep the melodrama implicit in its true-story inspiration, “All Apologies” ends up being merely flat. Like 2009’s “Perfect Life,” Emily Tang’s third feature fails to capitalize on the potential of her 2001 debut, “Conjugation,” and while there’s an occasional fascination to this old-fashioned morality tale of two families locked into a situation at once tragic and absurd, the pic quickly fades following its gripping setup. Limited fest play seems likely for this resolutely minor-key item.

A young boy, the son of construction worker Yonggui (Cheng Taishen), is killed in a car accident while riding with grocer Henan (Gao Jin), himself crippled in the wreck. After learning his wife (Liang Jing) had herself sterilized without telling him, Yonggui drunkenly rapes Quaoyu (Yang Shuting), Henan’s wife, hoping to impregnate her and thus replace his son. Both Yonggui and Quaoyu, who decides to have the child, are the unwitting victims of Chinese political ideologies, but the pic lacks satirical bite. Dramatically, there are some subtle moments of piercing intensity, but little emotional drive. Treatment in general feels staid and unimaginative, lacking even the formal risks Tang took in “Perfect Life.”

All Apologies


Production: A Sunny Sky Culture and Media Investment, Beijing Xinghe Mingliang Media Investment production. (International sales: PAD Intl., Hong Kong.) Produced by Yang Jian, Chow Keung. Executive producer, Yang Jian, Zhao Haiguang. Co-producers, Zhu Peifan, Deng Liwei, Wang Tongjun. Directed by Emily Tang. Screenplay, Han Jie, Emily Tang, Dong Fang.

Crew: Camera (color), Lai Yiu Fai; editor, Chow Keung, Baek Seung-hoon; music, Roger Lin; art director, William Kwok; sound (Dolby Digital), Dong Xu. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (competing), Sept. 25, 2012. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Cheng Taishen, Yang Shuting, Liang Jing, Gao Jin. (Mandarin dialogue)

More Film

  • Andy SambergVariety Sundance Studio presented by

    Andy Samberg Calls Hosting the Oscars a 'Bad Gig' -- That He'd Still Consider

    Andy Samberg has been a reliable favorite hosting awards ceremonies, in recent years emceeing the Independent Spirit Awards, the Emmys and the 2019 Golden Globes with Sandra Oh. So it’s only natural to wonder if Samberg would consider taking the reins on the Oscars, which will return again this year without a host. “They have [...]

  • Shirley

    'Shirley': Film Review

    Shirley Jackson was a real person, a writer best known for her twisted short story “The Lottery,” although the version presented in Josephine Decker’s “Shirley” feels more like a character from one of her own novels. Featuring “The Handsmaid’s Tale” actor Elisabeth Moss in the title role, this queer, hard-to-quantify psychological study isn’t a biopic [...]

  • Us Kids

    'Us Kids': Film Review

    The nonstop drama of the Trump White House has succeeded, among other things, in largely pushing gun control from the forefront of the news cycle — no doubt to the relief of the NRA and its allies, despite the continued frequency of U.S. mass shootings. As a result, and perhaps unfairly, Kim A. Snyder’s “Us [...]

  • Logan Paul Ninja Spree

    How Logan Paul and Ninja Helped 'Spree' Cast Capture Influencer Culture Gone Wild

    When it came to depicting the gonzo nature of influencer culture, “Spree” stars Joe Keery and Sasheer Zamata and director Eugene Kotlyarenko did a deep dive into the haves and have-nots of the internet. “Spree,” which premiered Friday at Sundance Film Festival, follows a rideshare driver named Kurt Kunkle (Keery) who will stop at nothing [...]

  • The Go Go's at Chicagofest in

    'The Go-Go's': Film Review

    In the terrific documentary “The Go-Go’s,” there’s a tasty clip of the band playing an early club gig in 1979, when they were part of the L.A. punk scene. They wear bushy black hair and pale white makeup (with rouge!), as if they were trying to be mannequin versions of Darby Crash, and they have [...]


    Watch the Exclusive Trailer of Rotterdam/Goteborg Entry ‘A Perfectly Normal Family’

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the international trailer of the Danish film “A Perfectly Normal Family,” due to compete both at Rotterdam’s Big Screen Competition, and at Göteborg’s Nordic Film Competition. Malou Reyman’s debut feature has been a hot property for sales agent New Europe Film Sales, ever since it was sneak peeked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content