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Springtime in a Small Town Review

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Set in the aftermath of the Japanese withdrawal at the end of World War II, Zhang’s return has an impact on the marriage of convenience between his one-time sweetheart Yuwen and Dai, a childhood friend whose health is as precarious as the ruins of his bom

★★★★

Following a decade of enforced silence because of his comments on China's human rights record, Tian Zhuangzhuang returns with his exquisite remake of Fei Mu's 1948 melodrama.

Set in the aftermath of the Japanese withdrawal at the end of World War II, the action turns around Zhang (Xin Baiqing)'s impact on the marriage of convenience between his one-time sweetheart Yuwen (Hu Jingfan) and Dai (Wu Jun), a childhood friend whose health is as precarious as the ruins of his bomb-scarred home. But it's the emotional shifts and gradual revelation of long-suppressed secrets (particularly once Wu's sister, played by Lu Sisi, also falls for the returning exile) that makes the film so intriguing.

Beautifully photographed by Mark Lee (who also co-shot Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love), and delicately played by an untried cast, this confirms Tian as the Fifth Generation's unsung master.