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The Other Half

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The Other Half (2006)

111 min - Drama, Foreign - 31 October 2006
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Xiaofen (Zeng Xiaofei) spends all day listening to everything that’s wrong with China, opening her eyes to the chaos that threatens her own life. Working as a secretary for a legal office, Xiaofen records clients detailing the sordid aspects of their lives: divorce cases, medical malpractice suits, financial corruption and old-fashioned personal revenge. Xiaofen starts to question her own relationship with her boyfriend (Deng Gang), fresh out of prison and looking to get into trouble again with his gambling habit. While Xiaofen deals with the overwhelming social malaise surrounding her, rumors spread of a disaster at the local chemical plant, threatening to poison the entire city. Indie director Ying Liang follows up his celebrated debut Taking Father Home with a brutally frank portrait of the social and environmental problems plaguing contemporary China.

Director:  Ying Liang
Stars: 

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Storyline

Xiaofen (Zeng Xiaofei) spends all day listening to everything that’s wrong with China, opening her eyes to the chaos that threatens her own life. Working as a secretary for a legal office, Xiaofen records clients detailing the sordid aspects of their lives: divorce cases, medical malpractice suits, financial corruption and old-fashioned personal revenge. Xiaofen starts to question her own relationship with her boyfriend (Deng Gang), fresh out of prison and looking to get into trouble again with his gambling habit. While Xiaofen deals with the overwhelming social malaise surrounding her, rumors spread of a disaster at the local chemical plant, threatening to poison the entire city. Indie director Ying Liang follows up his celebrated debut Taking Father Home with a brutally frank portrait of the social and environmental problems plaguing contemporary China.


Collections: Ying Liang

Genres: Drama, Foreign

Details

Official Website: 
Language:  普通话
Release Date:  31 October 2006

Box Office

Company Credits

Production Companies: 

Technical Specs

Runtime:  1 h 51 min

Xiaofen (Zeng Xiaofei) spends all day listening to everything that’s wrong with China, opening her eyes to the chaos that threatens her own life.

Working as a secretary for a legal office, Xiaofen records clients detailing the sordid aspects of their lives: divorce cases, medical malpractice suits, financial corruption and old-fashioned personal revenge. Xiaofen starts to question her own relationship with her boyfriend (Deng Gang), fresh out of prison and looking to get into trouble again with his gambling habit. While Xiaofen deals with the overwhelming social malaise surrounding her, rumors spread of a disaster at the local chemical plant, threatening to poison the entire city. Indie director Ying Liang follows up his celebrated debut Taking Father Home with a brutally frank portrait of the social and environmental problems plaguing contemporary China.

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The Other Half (Chinese: 另一半; pinyin: lìng yībàn) is an award-winning independent Chinese film. It is the second feature from Chinese director Ying Liang.

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This contemporary women’s film is partly a romantic comedy, partly an urban satire, and a thoroughly entertaining sharp, snazzy new digital feature by director Lin Lisheng.
The film focuses on three woman, played by three dazzling actresses: Zheng Tianwei, elegant and gorgeously middle aged, plays Mother, a theatre actress, who, on the death of her husband, starts to contemplate a renewed sex life and a second marriage. Wang Ning (from Love Will Tear Us Apart, 1999), gorgeously voluptuous, plays Elder Sister, a dazzlingly confident young Beijing woman sure of her ability to bed a rich man to finance her well-developed consumer life style, and Younger Sister Huang Lu (Blind Mountain, 2007), gorgeously restrained and precociously brilliant, narrates the tale: she writes for a website whilst maintaining a passionate, tawdry little affair with her married chief editor. Three women, three sex lives, and lots of sharp, witty dialogue propel this family tale far beyond the usual stale soap opera comedy that burdens Chinese commercial cinema’s typical attempts to take on this subject.
The “other half” of the title is Little Sister’s version of the yearning that separates a woman from the object of her affections: in her estimation, everyone has an “other half”, who fits him or her like two halves of an apple, who completes their happiness. Mother, after a suitable three year period of mourning, is approached by Jixian (Zou Jingzhi), an old school chum, now a successful businessman in Holland. She sees her ticket to happiness and, egged on by her alternately appalled and delighted daughters, sets about seducing him by reconditioning the old sex appeal machinery that she had neglected. Elder Sister, on the other hand, discovers that it’s harder to keep her video editor beau under her control with her (admittedly impressive) seductive powers, and embarks on a series of “romantic adventures” involving racy S M experiments, a corpulent zillionaire, and a fair bit of comic violence. Little Sister’s life is the least resolved of the group: she undergoes a surreally comic abortion (complete with chorus lines of anxious women patients), finds that bedding a married man isn’t as simple as she thought, and discovers the complex feelings lying at the root of her ambivalence towards her mother’s new fiancé.
Director Lin shoots works with a fine script by Sun Yanhua, full of piquant, fresh details about romantic life in present day Beijing. His camera style is delightfully comic, all fish-eyed lenses, eye-popping colour schemes, and stretched, zippy framings. With three such fine actresses to work with, Lin fearlessly gives them relatively long takes that show off their fine comic timing and dramatic chops. His skill is such that he is able to guide his film through a fascinating change, almost imperceptibly, slowly and stealthily deepening and opening up worlds of buried emotions that the effervescent dialogue has kept under wraps. A standout entry in the still developing realm of mainland Chinese entertainment cinema, that shows how essential a well written script and brilliant actors are to well-crafted contemporary comedy.
Shelly Kraicer
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Plot

A sensitive and ironic portrayal of life in a Chinese industrial town, where a law clerk contends with her clients’ litany of woes, her shady boyfriend’s gambling addiction, her estranged father and the threat of toxic pollution.

Xiaofen works as a clerk at a law firm located in a developing city in Southwestern China. Her job is to meet different female clients of the firm and document each case. However, just like the female clients involved in those lawsuits, Xiaofen is also in trouble. She feels anxious and unsafe. Her boyfriend, who was living with her, goes missing, possibly because he was a murderer. And her mother and her women friends lead unsettled lives.

This movie consists of two alternating parts. One part comprises the actual, true stories told by the female clients whom Xiaofen meets in her job. The other part is the narrative about Xiaofen herself and her female friends. The intention of the film’s structure is to present a contemporary report on the status of women living in an inland city in China. [wikipedia]