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女兒紅 (1995)
Maiden Rose

Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 12/09/1999

A film about 3 generations of Chinese women, set in 3 periods: the 30's,60's, and 90's. "Maiden Rose" (with an accent on the final "e") is a traditional wine prepared in the Shaoxing area. Sealed when a girl is born, it is to be opened only on her wedding day. Here we have the film's dominant symbol, and the key to its plot. The jar of wine, prepared for Huadiao by her father, passes to her daughter Qiumei when Huadiao falls in love with the wrong man. Qiumei, victimized by the Cultural Revolution, refuses the wine. Finally, in the money-mad 90's, Qiumei's daughter Chen Fei inherits it. But she subjects it to a degrading, particularly capitalist fate. We've seen all these elements before, though, in fresher and more striking combinations, all the way from Zhang Yimou to _The Joy Luck Club_. The screenplay unfolds predictably, along the well-worn path of Chinese film melodrama. Xie Yang deploys his camera rather straightforwardly in short, simply composed shots that seem a little too reminiscent of the style of his father (the great Chinese director Xie Jin).