ASIAN FILM - Article
15:25 - 12th February 2013, by David West

She, A Chinese

Guo Xiaolu's first fictional feature won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2009. The globe-spanning story centres around Li Mei (Huang Lu), who lives in a rural village in China. Restless and looking for more than life in the village has to offer, she heads off first to Chongqing, where she winds up working in a hair salon in a seedy, red light neighborhood, and befriends Spikey (Wei Yi Bo), an enforcer and debt collector. From Chongqing, Mei finds her way to London where she meets Geoffrey (Geoffrey Hutchings), an elderly, lonely widower who marries her on impulse. But any sense of marital bliss is cut short as Mei is drawn to Rashid (Chris Ryman), who works in a local takeaway.

The film expresses a theme found in Guo Xiaolu's UFO In Her Eyes and in her writing, with her disaffected, disconnected protagonist struggling to fit into the world around her. Alienation follows Mei wherever she goes - her relationships are just as unsuccessful in affluent London as in the tiny village she managed to leave behind.

"Whether you are living in China or the west, there is so much anxiety in society that is brought up by this extreme, hyper-capitalist system. Human beings are not the first thing considered. It's not human life, but materialism, and what you achieve," says the director. "There are no local communities anymore, no local culture. There is this conflict with this economic system, with politics, with capitalism. This harsh society does not allow you to live harmoniously."

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