This is a strange and delightful find from China: a sex comedy, bawdy and a little raunchy, about four elderly farmers. New director Hao Jie, with a bit of Boccaccio and a dollop of Rabelais, shows you a side of rural China you’ve probably never seen before.
Decades ago when they were young, Old Yang had a thing for Eryatou, until her father violently intervened. Liu Ruan was married as a child to an older girl, but seems to prefer the embrace of his mother. Big Head Liang lost a hand while paying more attention to a village beauty than to the grain thresher he was operating. And Gu Lin, in bed with his wife, was caught seducing his young wife’s sister. Now, Eryatou is the village mayor’s wife. Which doesn’t impede her willingness to satisfy the erotic needs of these four now elderly co-villagers when the mayor’s away on business.
Director Hao grew up in a village in rural Hebei, northern China. His childhood memories, and the lives and loves of his relatives and neighbours make up the raw material of this fiction feature. But it’s all based on fact, he says, and all but one of the actors in the film are non-professionals playing themselves, or somewhat fictionalized versions thereof. Which is all the more remarkable considering both the saucy nature of the material, and the genuine vitality and naturalness of the performances. Chinese indie cinema, at its most wryly entertaining. —Shelly Kraicer