Waynesville Mail

4K Revival, Resilience Amidst Revolution

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)


Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Year Released: 1993, 2023 4K Uncut Restoration Film Movement Classics
Runtime: 2h 50m
Director(s): Chen Kaige
Writer(s): Lillian Lee, Lu Wei
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, Gong Li, Lu Qi, Ying Da, Ge You, Lei Han, Tong Di
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
Where To Watch: opens theatrically at New York's Film Forum on September 22, 2023, with additional markets to follow; visit here for a showing near you www.filmmovement.com

RAVING REVIEW: FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE celebrates three glorious decades with a 4K facelift that enhances its beauty and expands its narrative with an additional 20 minutes (which makes a massive difference for the epic.) For those who haven't had the pleasure yet, this cinematic gem isn't just a nostalgia trip—it boasts a spot on Time magazine's prestigious top 100 films roster. Oh, and did we mention this is the only Chinese film that has won the renowned Palme d’Or trophy?

But let's get to the movie's soul as we prepare for a gripping journey through China's rich and tumultuous history, with personal tales of love, ambition, and drama unfolding against this vast backdrop. You'll meet Cheng Dieyi "Douzi" (Leslie Cheung,) the opera sensation renowned for his mesmerizing female portrayals, Shitou Duan Xiaolou "Shitou" (Fengyi Zhang,) opera's unparalleled juggernaut, and Juxian (Gong Li,) the captivating soul entwined in their world. Their personal stories provide a poignant reflection of the dramatic shifts in China's political scene.

Enter Director Chen Kaige, who transforms Lilian Lee's iconic novel into a cinematic vision that masterfully melds sweeping historical events with the palpable emotions of personal tales. The result? An immersive peek into the Cultural Revolution's pulsating era, allowing a glimpse into societal upheavals and Kaige's struggles and triumphs.

From Lee’s original novel, Wei Lu crafts a narrative where personal connections challenge and often overshadow the vastness of history. Her characters, painted with ethereal strokes and bound by destiny, are always on a tumultuous exploration of life. But Kaige's cinematic vision elevates FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE, giving it a unique flavor distinct from Lee's other masterpieces.

One of the film's standout elements is its ability to tackle the world of theater so well. Navigating the treacherous waters of epic storytelling isn't a cakewalk, and many films have sunk trying. Not this one. It not only keeps you hooked with rich symbolism but manages to map out the evolution of complex relationships, especially between Douzi and Xialolu, amidst the vibrant Peking opera's challenges.

Narratively speaking, this film is like a puzzle. It draws you in, compelling you to piece together its intricate scenes, ensuring you're not just a spectator but an active participant. Pair this with the challenge of pacing a narrative spanning decades, and you've got a film that makes you think, reflect, and marvel.

From bustling cityscapes to heartfelt, intimate moments, every frame is crafted to resonate with the narrative's emotional undercurrents. A testament to its lasting impact? It underscores the resilience of its central figures amidst a whirlwind of change.

In conclusion, FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE is a symphony of emotions, epochal shifts, and human journeys. A keen eye might spot a few quirks here and there, but its dazzling aura remains undiminished. With a captivating plot, top-notch performances, and a fresh 4K sheen, this is cinematic artistry at its best. Ready for the magic?

For more reviews, please visit - https://linktr.ee/Overlyhonestmoviereviews for more info.

Follow me on Letterboxd, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Find my social media accounts on most platforms simply by searching Overly Honest Movie Reviews.

I’m always happy to hear from my readers; please say hi or send me any questions about movies.

[photo courtesy of FILM MOVEMENT CLASSICS]

As an advocate for creators, actors, and writers, I firmly stand with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA in their current strike. The entertainment industry is built on these individuals' extraordinary talents, and their contributions must be appropriately recognized and rewarded. They deserve fair compensation, sensible work hours, and respect for their creative rights. I believe in the power of unity and collective action, and I'm steadfast in my support for their fight for better working conditions and fair remuneration. Together, we can shape a more equitable future in the entertainment world.