Adorable and chilling in equal amounts....how the filmmakers pulled off making a naturalistic film with an almost exclusive cast of thirty-six four year old's I'll never know...a lesson in subtlety....
A rickety doll's house that is, in some parts, a kindergarten The 400 Blows. Qiang, our lead, spends the film 50/50 between blubbing his eyes out and rebelling against authority figures who are neither very cruel or that maligned in their positions. The Tchaikovsky-esque symphonies swell around bleak yet claustrophobic expanses but this really never goes beyond the 'Misunderstood New Kid' trope set in period clothes.
Demagogic. I cannot find any difference between the educational system condemned in the film and those operating in the West. Manipulative when using cute little bunnies to portray political dissident views. Naive concept of what individuality means and how it should be balanced in society. Intellectually chaotic, superficial & hollow critique of a Chinese political regime. Not tricked by this one.
Interesting setting and excellent acting. I enjoyed watching the movie, however I don't appreciate the idea of using cute, sweet children in a film like this one, clearly having political undertones. Basically it's a film about how evil communism prevents you from being an individualist. Does the Western "correct", lacking any form of discipline education system create better people?
"I'm out of line, report me to the teacher!"
MAGICAL soundtrack. Very real portrayal of the isolation in being an individual. Awesome commentary on the repression of Communist China. Beautifully shot and a delight to watch.
One can argue over how directly symbolic the narrative is meant to be and this is one of the film's strengths: the basic story is itself sufficiently dramatic. Charming performances from a host of very young children (a directorial triumph in that respect), effective cinematography especially in the playground depictions of sub-grouping and the boy's social isolation, but an unnecessarily lush musical score.