Reviewed by: dandan
Summary: cigarettes, liquor, tea and toffee...
han sanming (han sanming) has travelled from shanxi to fengjie in search of the wife who left him sixteen years ago. she isn't there, but her brother informs han that she will be back in a couple of months. han begins working on the various demolition projects that are taking place, as part of the three gorges dam project. shen hong (tao zhao) has travelled to fengjie in search of her husband, who she hasn't seen for two years.
'still life' is a film which just manages to keep itself going. it does, at times, literally crawl along. still, credit must go to jia zhang-ke for making the two stories, which are essentially just about people waiting around, as watchable and intriguing as they are. it is finely crafted, understated, naturalism and realism.
one thing which really contributes to the film is the backdrop. the three gorges dam project was originally envisaged in 1919 but, after a slightly rocky history, construction only began in 1994. the dam, itself, will result in the waters of the three gorges rising by around 175m; as a consequence, over one and a half million people require relocation. it is the background of displacement, the demolition of buildings and the decay of emptied towns which, strangely, adds a mystery and beauty to the film.