The Goddess

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Written, directed and designed by the 27-year-old Wu Yonggang, this is the kind of film that demands a rewriting of the film history books. The Garbo-esque Ruan Lingyu plays a single mother driven into prostitution (the title is a euphemism) to pay for her young son's schooling. Her best efforts to maintain some personal dignity run aground on social hypocrisy and male misogyny, the latter personified by the brutal pimp who co-opts her services. Free of moralism and melodrama, expressively composed and lit and very naturalistically acted, this is a film of startling modernity.

By: TR

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