The film is set in the mountainous regions of the western Hunan province in the early 1980s. At the film's start, a young man (Liu Ye) begins his first journey as a postman at the mountainous rural areas of the aforesaid regions. His father (Ten Rujun), a veteran postman forced to retire due to a bad knee, decides to accompany him together with the family's faithful dog, Buddy.
First off, this movie is not for everyone. Avoid it if you do not lime very slow movies.
- Overall 10
- Story 8
- Acting/Cast 10
- Music 9
- Rewatch Value 6
This is a movie which beautifully relies on simplicity to tell an emotional tale. It's a quiet tale, full of feeling, full of longing. It's a deeply felt journey.
The gist of it is simple: China, 80s, the moutains of Hunan. A son is taking over the postman position of his father, who is forced to retirement due to arthritis. And for his first time doing it the father walks along, to teach him. The job is fairly simple: Walk a certain designated route, dropping mail in villages. But it's not that simple, because the postman must understand the villagers- and their hearts and the relationships among them.
It is a story of a father and son- and the understanding that passes between them of how much sacrifice this job entails. The son already kknows this and yet the journey together, the journey of passage for one and initiation for another- brings them to a point of transition and deeper understanding. This journey becomes a touchstone of both of their lives. It is a story of mutual appreciation, and of strenghtening the father-son bond but also increasing the love for the heart of the family, the mother, and her own sacrifices.
For anyone who knows and identifies with the joy but at the same time heartbreak of solitude and/or who enjoys solitary walks in the moutains, this movie may just prove a beautiful sight. For anyone who knows the separation from family for a long time due to a sense of duty or because of job, this may also be something to identify with.
It may not be a film for everyone, for it is slow, perhaps too slow, deliberate and reflective and lets feelings unfold on screen, though it speaks through facts and situations. It's a story of a father and son, the story of inheritance, the story of a journey of initiation and of sacrifice. It is accompanied with beautiful scenery and calming music- at times soaring with nostalgia which pierced right through me, beautiful cinematography, breathtaking at times, as we witness the wide expanses of the great moutains, the significane of the job in such a rural area becomes even more pronouces, as is the sacrifice. There is also some very intimate camera work at times.
It may seem very dated to some, however.
The acting is very sensitive and restrained from both actors and their bond feels very real; there is good character development as they learn more about each other The dog is also very prominent. The Chinese title of the film is "Those Mountains, Those People, That Dog", where the dog refers to the dog that accompanies our postmen on the way, a trusted companion, almost the second son, in the solitude of the long path that takes the postman away from home for many long weeks.
It's a thoroughly beautiful piece, which very much affected me the first time I saw it. I was very much taken by the painting the film created. For that reason alone, this movie will always be special for me.
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