Traditionally, when focusing on youth the cinematic gaze has rested squarely on boys. Boys were the ones with rampant imaginations and a fearlessness which made for great cinema. This was obviously a load of old codswallop, but films such as Stand by Me and The Goonies undoubtedly are still hugely popular. Thankfully, in modern times filmmakers have begun equalising the score. With the likes of Girlhood, Mustang and now The Day is Over, the tide has very much turned.
Zhang Jangxing (Li Yingchun) lives in a remote mountain village in China. Humiliated by her classmates and unsupported by her teacher, she wants nothing more than to be with her father. However, like most of the parents from the poor rural backwater, he is working hundreds of miles away in a big city. Along with two friends and a silent ‘little sister’, they borrow money to try and escape, but a mishap leaves them penniless with nowhere to go.
The Day is Over is a beautiful naturalistic film which relies on its impressive young cast to carry the narrative. Rui Qi’s feature debut gives its story air to breathe. We follow the girls as they face a series of challenges in order to escape from their oppressive existence. Their quest is played out in a meandering and lyrical fashion, which allows the fable to flow in a way which is somewhere between documentary and drama. The Day is Over is a wonderfully subtle piece of filmmaking.
The Day is Over screens at IFFR.