Thursday, 4 July 2013

Here, Then (Mao Mao, 2012)

Here, Then finally gets a UK release this month thanks to world cinema distributor Second Run. An almost impenetrable study of the disenfranchisement of youth, Here, Then is a film in the tradition of Mao's compatriots Jia Zhanghe and other purveyors of slow cinema - which rewards patience and an analytical appreciation of cinema. 

In a remote Chinese village lies a lost generation of youngsters, each patiently waiting for their fate to roll around the corner and send them in the right direction, yet they are eternally disillusioned.

Mao uses long takes thanks to the cinematography of Liu Ai Guo weaving these seemingly unrelated narrative strands into one sparse realm of alienation. Detached from both the action and the characters on screen, Mao Mao continues a recent trend in Chinese cinema of creating films which deftly enter the oblique ponderous space of our subconscious, allowing us to consider each action as we attempt to delve into the roots of this character's anxieties. 

This is most apparent when the director chooses to portray a rape scene in all of its gory glory.  From the outset the young female is resistant to the attack, yet slowly she gives in and the man has his way with her - yet why is this scene shown other than it being an example of the ugliness of these young people and the coldness of their actions.

Perhaps Mao is attempting to make a statement on the disillusionment of this lost generation and the current state of ennui within the large youth population of China.  All we learn is how empty these character's lives are and how little they have going for them.

That may sound dispiriting, yet Mao shoots with a real confidence and slight touch that is both chilling and professional.

Here, Then is out now on DVD from Second Run DVD

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