Ying Ling delicately washes the face of the motionless body. Using a damp cloth, she carefully cleans the hands, feet and finally the torso. The 17-year-old girl is far from home, preparing for her exams at one of China’s largest funeral parlours.
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This was one of a handful of films I had a chance to see at this year's Berlinale. It's an exceptionally beautiful, intimate and personal study of a young woman, on the cusp of adulthood, finding her way in the world by attending to the dead. There is so much careful observation and empathy in the filmmaking that it becomes essential and compelling viewing.
The idea for this documentary film is itself very poetic: to see young hands wash away the pain & illness of the dead is touching, but it also comes at a price to the soul. But the beauty is how this film shows that death need not be morbid & free of hope, for it can also serve as a catalyst for the living to move on and discover life with a greater sense of purpose. A powerful, subtle & sensitively shot documentary.
This is a jewel of a film. Stunningly shot and edited, the contrast between the remorseless "machine" of the mortuary and the tender, hopeful life of the young girl who works there is something that resonates on many levels. This is a quiet work of real power and artistry, and it deserves to be widely seen.
Lovely gentle, intimate film of a lonely teenage girl taking first steps out into an odd world we realise is probably not right for her. And that's why can't help feeing for her. Well done to the filmmaker, beautiful.
Fascinating insight into another culture's attitude and dealings with death. Simultaneously looking at the central young woman coming to terms with being far from home and making her way in the world, forging friendships and getting trained to wash the dead free from their pain and illness and prepare them for their journey onwards.
A really lovely film. Gentle exploration of a sensitiive subject. A very touching coming of age film, with a sympathetic eye trained on a warm vulnerable, funny teen. Death and love collide in a raw look at grief and hope. Hugely recommended.