VIFF Day Three: Chinese Reindeers and Loveless Marriages

Here, There directed by Sheng Lu (China)

Getting rid of your dead girlfriends shit is depressing in any city

Northern China. Shanghai. Paris. Those are the settings of the three stories described in Here, There. They are widely disparate places, but they do have one thing in common: To someone, they’re home. And that’s really what Here, There is about. These are not big stories: A man battles home-sickness while studying in Paris. Another man navigates a new relationship while feeling out a new job. A third man tries to juggle the shepherd lifestyle he so obviously loves, with a family that wants nothing more than for him to leave it behind.

And that’s kind of the point of the movie. Every story is big to the person it’s happening to. Every place is home to someone. And every person has a family that loves them. These are not huge revelations, but it’s nice to be reminded of them sometimes, and this film does so admirably.

As we left the theatre, my wife said to me that every movie should be directed by cinematographers, and based on the results of Here, There, it’s hard to argue with her. This is a gorgeous film. Sheng Lu captures the intrinsic qualities of each location he films, yet somehow gets them to blend together by movies end. This is really an accomplished piece of film-making, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Sheng Lu does next.

Rating: A-

Ten Years From Now, directed by Jordan Schiele (China)

Ten Years From Now, is a short film, depicting the complicated relationship between two friends in mainland China. He wants a kid, she doesn’t. She wants him, he’s gay. And so they compromise.

Before the film, the director told us that this was intended to be a meditation on the true nature of happiness, and whether or not sacrifice for others can garner as much joy as pursuing our own dreams. And it is. But it’s also a great little film about the complexity of human relationships, and how not everyone needs to fit into a four-walled box of expectations. It stars two of the main actors from Here, There, and although it’s a very different film, both serve to showcase the depth of talent and imagination that happens to be in the independent Chinese scene today.

Rating: B+

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