Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Mulberry Child

This documentary about a Chinese mother-daughter relationship veers uncertainly from family drama to an overall survey of Communism’s rise and devastating human effect.

Sept 6, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1362798-Mulberry_Child_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Mulberry Child originated as a book written by Jian Ping, in an attempt to get closer to her detached, all-too Americanized daughter, Lisa. In it, she tells her story of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, which involved her parents being accused of apostasy, the imprisonment of her father and his official, heartbreaking denouncement by his family.

Filmmaker Susan Morgan Cooper had a powerful story to tell here, but her handling of it feels often awkward and all over the place. She does herself no favors with black-and-white actor reenactments of past events in the Pings’ life, going back to a staunch grandmother of Jian. These sequences are both jarring and unconvincing, particularly because the actress playing Jian’s mother bears no resemblance to the actual woman, who is still alive and interviewed here. She gave her daughter very little maternal affection, which would account for the desperate need Jian has to connect to a largely indifferent, callous-seeming daughter.

Jian and Lisa, a thoroughly modern, jogging, hard-working and partying Chicagoan who has largely dismissed her Chinese roots, travel to China together. The inevitable re-bonding between them occurs, interlaced with a lot of clueless shots of Lisa reading her mother’s book on a train. I just wish Cooper had either done a straight documentary or a feature film about the Pings, as this hybrid approach dilutes the undeniable power of their saga.


Film Review: Mulberry Child

This documentary about a Chinese mother-daughter relationship veers uncertainly from family drama to an overall survey of Communism’s rise and devastating human effect.

Sept 6, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1362798-Mulberry_Child_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Mulberry Child originated as a book written by Jian Ping, in an attempt to get closer to her detached, all-too Americanized daughter, Lisa. In it, she tells her story of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, which involved her parents being accused of apostasy, the imprisonment of her father and his official, heartbreaking denouncement by his family.

Filmmaker Susan Morgan Cooper had a powerful story to tell here, but her handling of it feels often awkward and all over the place. She does herself no favors with black-and-white actor reenactments of past events in the Pings’ life, going back to a staunch grandmother of Jian. These sequences are both jarring and unconvincing, particularly because the actress playing Jian’s mother bears no resemblance to the actual woman, who is still alive and interviewed here. She gave her daughter very little maternal affection, which would account for the desperate need Jian has to connect to a largely indifferent, callous-seeming daughter.

Jian and Lisa, a thoroughly modern, jogging, hard-working and partying Chicagoan who has largely dismissed her Chinese roots, travel to China together. The inevitable re-bonding between them occurs, interlaced with a lot of clueless shots of Lisa reading her mother’s book on a train. I just wish Cooper had either done a straight documentary or a feature film about the Pings, as this hybrid approach dilutes the undeniable power of their saga.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Red Army
Film Review: Red Army

Non-hockey fans need not worry: This doc about Russia’s famed late-20th-century ice hockey team isn’t just for the converted. But filmgoers who don’t care a fig about Cold War-era tensions, culture clashes and the USSR’s erosion into the new Perestroika-embracing Russia can retire to the locker room, because these dynamics play big roles. More »

TheHumbling review
Film Review: The Humbling

Al Pacino’s superb performance as an aging, psychologically unraveling actor cannot save this pretentious and flat-footed film. More »

Mommy
Film Review: Mommy

Mom-obsessed Xavier Dolan triumphs with this startlingly original, compellingly watchable character study that is simultaneously hilarious, appalling and sad. More »

Manny
Film Review: Manny

Engaging look at legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao is best for hardcore fight fans. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here