Independently spirited, our year old Qiang struggles to cope in a strict, 1950s Beijing boarding school. He encourages rebellion in his classmates when denied the little red flowers rewarded for conformist behaviour.
There’s something self-consciously quaint about Zhang Yuan’s adaptation of Wang Shuo’s novel about a 1950s Chinese toddler who kicks against the system.
Yet, while depicting Dong Bowen as an adorable moppet whose failure to win any of the eponymous rewards for good behaviour prompts his rebellion against strict kindergarten teacher Zhao Rui, Yuan also suggests that sometimes a little conformity isn’t a bad thing. But it’s still impossible not to side with Dong’s increasingly brazen acts, which culminate in a Lilliputian bid to tie Zhao down to her bed after he convinces his classmates that she’s a child-eating monster. A real charmer.
A younger Chinese Bart Simpson is always going to be watchable although the message is a little confused.