The Other Half

Director Ying Liang's 2006 debut Taking Father Home won awards at numerous international film festivals, including San Francisco; this follow-up solidifies his talent. Blessed with a deadpan demeanor that would make Buster Keaton envious, the pretty and pretty tired Xiaofen works as a clerk in a law office, listening to an endless litany of complaints from philanderers, wife-beaters, factory owners (“Isn't it enough that I pay them?”), and the assorted brokenhearted. But her day job is a mere respite from the minor failures and petty grievances of her spare time, to which her loser boyfriend and “concerned” mother (anxious to marry her off to various new-capitalist dullards) contribute the most irritants-that is, until the explosion of a nearby “model environmental factory” adds far more. With a trenchant script by longtime collaborator Peng Shan, Ying expands one woman's personal dilemmas into a razor-sharp, frequently hilarious dissection of China's rising misfortunes, especially as suffered by its “other half,” women.

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