OzAsia Festival Film Review: Girls Always Happy

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Presented by Media Resource Centre and Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 27 Oct 2018

Multi-award winning movie Girls Always Happy starring long time actress and producer Nai An and rising star Yang Mingming takes a comedic glimpse at the complexities of an interdependent mother and daughter relationship. It is set in the Hutong province of China.

The opening scene sets the stage and theme for the entire film. An overcritical mother with a nonconforming daughter both frustrated by the circumstances in their lives blame each other for their positions in life. The traditional mother sees marriage or a more reliable career as a solution, the daughter obstinately refusing to accept either of these paths.

The dialogue between them is often acrimonious as the mother struggles to overcome her own traditional expectation of her daughter whilst interchangeably supporting her daughter’s ambitions and outlook on life. The occasional banter between them coupled with the collusion toward the elderly grandfather reminds the viewers that their relationship is not all bleak. In the film the challenges and largesse from the men in their life both divide and connect them.

The setting of the film in the Hutong province where living in a confined space and, eating and travelling in a neighbourhood where nature and open space is scarce, seemingly reflects the inner and outer battles of both women in life as they struggle with the space and power to express themselves. It is so authentically China and an insightful tale of the stark realities of the lower to middle class stratum of Chinese society that is often overlooked in mainstream productions.

Girls Always Happy is Yang Mingming’s third film and has won multiple awards. The film is the winner the Young Cinema Firebird Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2018, winner of the FIPRESCI prize 2018, Best Director Winner at the International Women’s Film Festival Seoul 2018, Best New Talent Winner of the China Stars Award at the Seattle Film Festival 2018, Media Choice Award for Filmmaker Winner at the Shanghai International Film Festival 2018.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Next screening at 10.45am Fri 9th Nov 2018 at Mercury Cinema
Prices: $13 – $17
Bookings: https://www.ozasiafestival.com.au/tickets/

 

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