Shanghai Dreams review

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This personal project from Chinese filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai is a poignant family melodrama. The story begins in 1983, when the Cultural Revolution had finished and Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms were taking root in the big cities. Factory worker Zemin (Yao Anlian) is desperate to return to Shanghai, but his teenage schoolgirl daughter Qinhong (Gao Yuanyuan) regards this rural backwater as home, and to her father’s fury has begun seeing a local apprentice.

Shanghai Dreams is an impressive evocation of a particular historical moment and Xiaoshuai has a fine eye and ear for youth subcultures – witness the underground dance party where kids shred the floor to Boney M. Austerely shot, with the characters often kept at a distance from the camera, it also features a powerfully tragic and moving performance from Anlian’s obstinate patriarch.

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