THE STORY OF QIU JU, a comedy set in the Chinese countryside about the infamous red-tape bureaucracy of communist China, tells the story of Qiu Ju's seeking legal retribution to clear her family name. By the director of JU DOU and RAISE THE RED LANTERN, the film is unassuming and humorous, and pointedly illustrates the folly of some social conventions and peculiarities.
(AC, PC, H, B) Nothing objectionable in this slightly anti-Communist yet humanist portrayal of contemporary communist China which contains somewhat aggressive feminism and does unwittingly promote some biblical principles.
The latest in Chinese virtuoso Zhang Yimou’s long list of accomplishments such as RAISE THE RED LANTERN, THE STORY OF QIU JU is a unassuming, humorous film, which pointedly illustrates the folly of certain social conventions. Qiu Ju’s husband has just been kicked where it hurts most by the village chief for blurting out a snide remark concerning the chief’s apparent inability, after five daughters, to father male offspring. The beautiful, Qiu Ju feels personally grieved as well. Only an apology will set matters straight, but no one is about to apologize. Thus, Qiu Ju’s quest for justice begins. After getting no satisfaction from the police magistrate, Qiu Ju takes her case to the district office miles away, then to the city further away, and finally, to a lawyer who will initiate a lawsuit. As the convoluted legal process begins to take on absurd dimensions, it becomes clear to all but Qiu Ju that the importance of the grievance may not merit the growing expenditure of the family’s meager resources.
There is a wealth of symbolism in THE STORY OF QIU JU which some may enjoy trying to decipher, such as the many clues pointing to a fast-changing-political and social environment in mainland China. The settings and photography, as usual in Zhang’s films, are fascinating.
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