Today’s capitalist China is almost unrecognisable from where the country was at the end of the last century. By embracing private enterprise and a market economy, the ‘red dragon’ has focussed its massive human, technological and mineral resources into becoming the second largest economy in the world. However, this revolution has come at a price, both in terms of societal structures and uneven progress. Ripples of Life tells a tale of a progressive country full of contradictions.
The arrival of a film crew in the remote town of Yong’an sends ripples throughout the community. Gu (Miyi Huang) is the owner of a local restaurant but wants more from life. It looks like her dreams might come true when she catches the eye of a casting director. Chen Chen (Zishan Yang) is the film’s star but the glorious return to her hometown, and plans to catch-up with old friends, don’t quite go as she envisaged. Meanwhile, the screenwriter (Chunlei Kang) and director (Yang Liu) clash as the first day of shooting approaches.
Ripples of Life employs a clever narrative structure in order to tell three different, but inter-related, tales in a way which chimes true. Shujun Wei’s (Striding into the Wind) film is a treatise on the art of filmmaking which cleverly incorporates a number of social issues into its DNA. Benefitting from rich cinematography and sharp writing, Ripples of Life is a fascinating and offbeat portrait of four different people circling around a central pivot.
Ripples of Life screens at London Film Festival.