This is a quality independant film...and its from China. Yet another subtitled masterpeice. Well, mostly a masterpiece. The thing is, if you love half naken old Asian men, you will LOVE this film.
The opening scene has really nothing to do with most of the movie, but its really fun. You know how they have sleeping pods in Japan, I could believe they have showers that are similar in China. Pretty much, you purchase how long you would like your shower to be. Your clothes are steamed while you shower, and just like the classic car wash machines, you stand there and are cleaned in the shower. looks like it cold be a comedy right?
Then the movie actually begins. A son returns home (a traditional bathhouse) to visit his father and younger brother. This scene cracked me up so hard. I told Daniel that he must watch it, memorize it, and do the same thing to his brother when we see them in Florida. It consists of the younger brother walking up to the older, caressing his face, leaning against his shoulder, then running away. Beautiful. Hilarious. So ackward. Its in the imdb trailer here.
A few minutes later I realized the younger brother is handicapped. Instant guilt for laughing at him. Then I remebered, its a movie. There is no way the actor is really handicapped. Sweet, freedom to laugh.
In a conversation between the two brothers we discover the real reason why the older son came home. He got a post card. And not just any post card. On the post card was a drawing of a sad person sitting on the edge of a bed with another person in it. Older brother asks, "Why did you send this?" "Its me and dad. He is sleeping." Just when you think your father has died.
Ah another quality moment.
There is a time when a patron comes in because his wife has beaten him up. That character has a nice subplot, an intriguing story as to why him and his wife have so many issues, and a heartwarming "awwwww" moment with a happy ending.
Aside from the the silly parts, the film is clearly a drama. The bath is in an old section of Bejing, and there has been talk of the whole district getting torn down for a new shopping mall. *SPOILER ALERT, SKIP TO NEXT Paragraph* There is also family drama: First the older son loses the younger one in the city, then the funny foreshadowing post card comes true. I know, its a lot less funny when its true.
Overall, a good film. I would watch it again. Daniel didn't really get into it, and wanted to skip forward a few chapters, and then didn't watch the end. He missed out. Its even a short film, just over an hour and a half.
Its really is a good film, especially if you have gotten close to any developmentally disabled people. It takes on the idea of institutionalization, and acceptance. And hey, there is even some great Italian Opera singing, afterall its a shower. There has to be singing.
The film is pretty well loved in all the independant film leagues as well. It was the World Cinema Selection at Sundance in 2000, as well as getting awards in Toronto Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Rotterdam Film FEstival, the San Sebastian Film festical, and being moted as an official selection by the museum of modern art. Don't ask me why the cover art says its a comedy. Its not really. There are comedic moments, but its really not a comedy.
Oh and its reated PG-13. Mostly for the nudity. There is a point when there are two young boys (under 10) frolicking naked in the bathhouse. Supposedly there is also some language, but I don't remember it. Maybe its for the cricket fights? Those are pretty intense. ;-D