Ye Ying – Le Promeneur d’Oiseau (The Nightingale) – **

Posted: May 10, 2014 in 2013, Children/Family, China, Dramedy, France, Road Trip, XX

This production sino-francais (Chinese-French production) tells the story of a spoilt city kid going on a road trip with her estranged grandfather to his native rural village. Carried along the journey: an eighteen year old caged singing bird, hence the title meaning the bird walker in English. (but shown at festivals as The Nightingale)

It’s a pleasant road movie, but only captivates because of the great images of Beijing and rural China. If this were shot in France with an arrogant Parisian kid going to a village in the Auvergne, it would never have gotten a theatrical release. It wouldn’t even attract viewers on television. But maybe the Chinese would watch it. Different cultures always intrigue more.

The two main actors are great to watch, even though the kid’s character is extremely annoying for the first half hour of the movie. There are some beautiful shots and the filmed road trip (leaving the ultramodern metropolis to the charming rural villages) makes you want to book a trip to China and backpack around on your own. Some references to the globalisation of data and technology (iPhone, Skype, Wii) make the movie accessible for the audiences in the West and also conjure up some laughs.  However, in the end, the morally packed story and the distant dialogue are painfully simple and predictable. And the caged bird is just dragged along for a metaphorical moment at the end of the movie, explained by the little kid herself.

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