The Red Jacket (Hong Mian Ao)

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A little girl (Cui Jo) lives in a remote mountain village with her Granny. Missing her mother, who is away working in the city, and her dead father, Cui Jo feels a little jealous of her best friend Xiang and her large and loving family. If only Cui Jo had a beautiful red jacket like her friend, maybe her life would be better. But Cui Jo’s mother won’t return home until the New Year and impoverished Granny is scraping by looking after them both as it is. Will Cui Jo get her jacket and what will Granny sacrifice to pay for it? Eschewing the use of professional actors and using stunning Chinese scenery and naturally-lit cinematography, writer and director Zou Yalin has crafted a visually attractive, but slight tale about the emotional needs of a young peasant girl. It’s hard to say who this film is pitched at; certainly the mist-laden Chinese-watercolour-brought-to-life mountain scenery evokes a charming sense of season and place, but  there is little sense of drama, and plot points are introduced and discarded in a manner that might puzzle adult and child alike. Whilst some adults may enjoy the pleasing visual qualities of the film, the shallow characterisation, a rice-paper thin story and, at times, mystifying subtitles combine to produce a film that will struggle to hold the attention of most children used to pacier Hollywood fare.

By: Vincent Woodcock

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