A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy.
A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without revealing his parentage in this circular tragedy. This tale of romantic and familial love in the face of unbreakable tradition is more universal than its setting.Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A very well done story about the illicit relationship between a man and his "aunt" in 1920's China that results in disaster for all concerned. I've seen Gong Li in a couple of movies recently, and it's clear that she is both beautiful and talented. Here she plays the title character of Ju Dou, a young woman forced into marriage to Yang Jinshan, the brutal and sadistic owner of a dye mill, who beats and tortures her, and also wants her to bear him a son and heir. The mill is also home to Yang Tianqing, Jinshan's adopted nephew. Ju Dou and Tianqing fall in love with each other, and have a child, who is assumed to be Jinshan's. The result is tragedy all around eventually.
The story is both unpleasant and yet interesting. Few of the characters (with the exception of Ju Dou) really connected with me. Ju Dou, on the other hand, becomes the object of sympathy right from the start. Her life is horrible, and even the relationship with Tianqing (a gentle and loving one for the most part) ultimately strikes me as unsatisfying, because frankly Tianqing is a wimp. The character (well portrayed by Li Baotian) comes across as childish and immature and afraid the whole way through. In a way, the most powerful (and frightening in many ways) character was the adolescent Tianbai, Ju Dou's son. He only appears in the last third of the movie or so, but he comes across as completely hateful toward both his mother and Tianqing and totally unemotional. It all leads up to a tragic (and yet appropriate) ending.
One thing I really enjoyed in this movie was the depiction of the rituals around Jinshan's funeral procession. That was quite fascinating. Overall, this was an unpleasant movie with many unpleasant or at least unlikable characters, but still quite interesting. 7/10
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