Images from Springtime in a Smalltown

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Springtime in a Small Town (directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang) is a beautifully tragic story. I know that gets said a lot, but this story about a troubled couple is a masterpiece of subtlety and framing. Emotions drip from each of their faces, and as much is said about the state of their relationships in their words as it is the position where they are framed on camera. Taking place after WWII, their village has been heavily bombed by the Japanese. Yuwen and Dai Liyan were wed through an arrangement and they are pretty miserable with each other. When Dai Liyan’s friend, Zhang Zhichen, visits, Dai Liyan is happy, until he discovers his friend use to be his wife’s old flame. The moment where he realizes this over dinner (his sister’s birthday) is painful to watch as he realizes, he’s no longer needed nor loved, and just in the way. He’s actually a very nice and thoughtful guy, and even when others complains about his temper, it’s little moments of petulance that are so minor, especially considering the dude is sick. So I felt terrible for him. I don’t want to say much more, only that it’s definitely worth watching. I was surprised to learn that this is a remake of an older Chinese film so I want to see the original as well now. Below are just some quick screen grabs I made throughout the film.

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