The World of Chinese



Director Li Ruijun’s offering at this year’s Berlin Film Festival stars two humble misfits—poor farmer Ma Youtie and Cao Guiying, a woman suffering from incontinen­ce—thrown together in a forced marriage. Despite many tribulatio­ns, a romance slowly blooms between them with the passing of the seasons. It’s a heartwarmi­ng, slow-paced film that relishes in rural life, warts and all. Instead of the immaculate clothes and white skin of recent country dramas,

Li’s film has dirt under its nails and mud on its clothes. Set in the dust-strewn fields of Gansu (Li’s home province, where he sets all his films), the action revolves around humdrum farm work, but with exquisite shots of Northwest China’s scruffy, untamed beauty. Return to Dust is rare at a time when “rural rejuvenati­on” is a common buzzword: bringing out the radiant in the rustic without slipping into idyllic pastoral.

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