Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

Director: Joan Chen
Year Released: 1999
Rating: 2.5

Young (14+) Xiu Xiu is sent to Mao's "Educated Youth Camp" in China with several other children and teenagers to form a new Communist regime/army/group, but soon longs for home when she's stuck on a countryside in some random field far from civilization with a castrated horse wrangler. First time director Joan Chen's homage to Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven goes long on its mesmerizing beauty - I don't think I've ever seen grass look so good (this is a compliment) - but there's a lack of genuine dramatic tension; Chen relies too much on heavy-handed symbolism (the apple, the kaleidoscope, the red scarf, etc) for artistic depth. All of the characters in here only want to bed the young heroine - or rather, rape her - and take turns, one by one, with her cottage acting as a makeshift brothel. It ends the way I thought it would, given the voiceover narration by the boy who symbolizes the 'normal' way of life she would shoot her own toes off for.