Columbia/2000/94/ANA 1.85

     Shower is a wonderful film about family and putting things in perspective. In a Northern China there is a bathhouse in a section of the old city. It's run by a man and his retarded son and  is an important part of the community for many of the old timers and some younger men as well. The stories we hear about in the bathhouse are funny and poignant. Old man Liu who runs the place is a wonderful character, a sagacious master of the water. And he knows how precious water is.

A happy bath house moment.  ©Columbia

    Behind the misty atmosphere of the local bath house is a heartwarming story of family. Part and parcel of the mist of the bath house is concern for one's friends. The mist of the bath house is steeped in warmth and heart that goes far beyond the social surface. Er Ming is the younger son of bath house owner Master Liu. When the older brother Da Ming returns home in response to a letter from his brother, it is a chance for the family to explore their damaged relationships. Faced with personal and business turning points, the brothers must come to grips with differing realities. How they work out their problems and help with the problems of others makes a great story.
     The savvy script by director Zhang Yang and a team of collaborators provides many humorous moments to frame to humanize the drama. Zhang's direction is sure-handed. While he plays with emotions, he's never heavy-handed. He respects his character and their differences. The opening is simply hilarious. There's also a lovely digression from the main story that relates the tale of a people in the northwest of China for whom water is scarce and precious. It's lovely filmmaking.
     Wu Jiang plays sunny Er Ming with extraordinary brio. Despite his handicap, you are never sorry for him, for he understands himself quite well. Jiang manages to search deep inside this character revealing some wonderful aspects. Quanxin Pu has the more difficult task of bringing to life the dower older brother Da Ming. The doubts his character must deal with are well constructed by the actor. Together, he and Jiang are outstanding. Xu Zhu plays father Master Liu with patience and intelligence. The three actors create a memorable on screen family.
    Columbia delivers Shower  in a splendidly clean DVD. Every glistening drop of water is well delineated. You can catch the spark of life in Er Ming's eyes or understand the love reflected in Master Liu's expressions. Color is excellent.: good saturation and a nice range. Skin tones are accurate. Night sequences glisten with life. Shadow detail is excellent and grain is replicate din tight patterns. The Dolby Digital 5:1 surround delivers the package of music and ambient details with nice spatial balance. Yellow English subtitles are easy to read and seem to communicate the feelings of the characters quite well.





Jou Du/A,B-

A sexy Chinese noir. Bold colors paint stirring emotions in a small provincial town.

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