Gone Is the One Who Held Me the Dearest in the World- -
Female writer Ho (Siqin Gaowa) has just published her new book and is busy with various promotional events. While immersing herself in her successful career, Ho squeezes some time to visit her 80-year-old mother on her way home. When she arrives at the doorstep, however, Ho discovers that her mother's eyesight has deteriorated to the point that she does not recognize her daughter, and the sense of guilt sets off to overwhelm Ho...
As the film opens, middle-aged writer He (Siqin Gaowa) witnesses the death at home of her 80-year-old mother (Huang Suying).
In eerily distended slow motion, emergency paramedics fail to revive her. As He’s voice-over describes the anguished feelings of guilt that threaten overwhelm her, the film begins a long flashback that depicts the mother’s illness and her daughter’s struggle to care for her. A set-up for just another melodramatic/sentimental “woman’s weepie”, you might suspect. Be prepared to be surprised. This remarkably assured debut by director Ma Xiaoying is an adaptation of an autobiographical novel by celebrated Chinese writer Zhang Jie. The authenticity of a past rigorously self-exposed, of a soul bared with courageous abandon, is visible in every shot. The film’s vision is artful, subtle, mature. Luminous cinematography bathes each shot in glowing, gorgeously articulated light, a visual correlative to memory’s ability to transfigure the past. Through He’s eyes, we witness a series powerful scenes between mother and daughter that show the mother’s dignified but extremely stubborn personality, her weakening vision, her operation and recovery, and her growing senile dementia. Siqin Gaowa gives the performance of her very formidable career (Homecoming, 1984, Women From the Lake of Scented Souls, 1993, The Day the Sun Turned Cold, 1994) as a daughter who rediscovers her love for her mother. Her extraordinary expressive range, her complete immersion in character, and her gift for projecting an almost theatrical intensity that connects directly with the camera, make this the great female performance of 2002, for films from any country. Ma Xiaoying has a special gift for directing actors: Huang Suying as the formidable mother is a worthy adversary and partner for Siqin Gaowa. Even minor characters like the nurse, Xiao Yue (Zhang Shengxian) offer beautifully etched, quietly delineated performances. It’s subtle touches like these, flawlessly orchestrated to resonate together, that give this film its poetic power and emotional force.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival