more reaction than review more asian than american more indie than industry ... the goal of being one in a million movie review sites on the web should not be to regurgitate press releases about popular films, but to strive to become useful by presenting biased, impassioned, outlandish opinions so that like minds can find you
Somehow thirteen year old Wei Minzhi, who appears unable to act her way out of a paper bag, turns in the performance of a lifetime. Blushing, awkward body language, a drifting gaze, and a pre-adolescent thespian's grasp of dialog pacing, filmed docu-realistically, come together to create the most endearing character I've seen in a long time. The film employs nonprofessional actors throughout, mostly children, to amazing effect. It's painful to think that this film portrays a reality of rural China so the story all by itself will probably make you cry. Seeing the story presented by a cast of real people makes it all the more powerful. The stubborn persistence of Wei's character, at first unrealistic, becomes poetic and inspiring. She has been tasked, as the substitute teacher in a rural village school, with delivering the class intact to the school master when he returns, Not One (student) Less. When one of the students leaves the school to find work in the city she follows him and tries to bring him back. The village scenes paint a harrowingly sad portrait of life there and the city scenes illustrate the divide between the two worlds. The ending might seem contrived but if ever there was a story that deserved a happy ending it's this one. A remarkable film.