So Long My Son – Alone against the world

Xiaoshuai Wang’s new drama mixes the destiny of fictional characters and the real destiny of contemporary China.

By Quentin Moyon

Reading time 2 min.

So Long my Son


While the 80’s are in full swing, and Chinese demographics beat records, the Party implements one-child policy. A decision that’s going to have an impact on on Liyun’s and Yaojun’s happiness, a happy couple until then…

Their girl best friend, who’s also director of the factory in which they work, forces the woman to have an abortion, whereas she already has a son. When their only son dies because of the director’s son, the couple ends up alone, and their friend feels guilty. That’s why the group of friends breaks apart.

The film shows how one-child policy is going tu turn China into an individualistic country… Individual interest being more important than the others’ interests even when it’s one’s best friends, wife or parents.

The issue of man and his
loneliness in his environment

One against all and all against one

It deals with man and his loneliness in his environment. Each character in the film has to swim against the tide so as to cope with their issues. We can feel the government pressure on them whereas it’s never directly shown. We know it’s here, not really far, just like Orwell’sbig brother.

Each member of the society is here to make sure that the absence of freedom applies to the neighbours as well. Everyone is unconsciously the eye of the government. A loneliness that’s highlighted by the complete restraint with which the film is shot. Shots are always set back in comparison to the characters as if the film told us: “It’s not your business, they’re going to get you into trouble”.

The tale of thousand feelings

A drama, a psychological thriller, a story of family? So long My Son is all these things at once. It moves us and we love the characters, despite the distance. Their denial, sadness, anger, and also their resignation. Xiaoshuai Wang’s mastery should allow him to sit next to his more famous fellows Jia Zhang-Ke (A Touch of Sin) and Lou Ye (Summer Palace).

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