Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cow (2009) Chinese New Year 2014

Guan Hu's tale of a man and a cow played the New York Asian Film Festival a couple years back and I missed it. I had heard good things about it and I put it on the short list of films to keep an eye out for.Recently I stumbled across a copy and I picked it up.

Set during the Japanese invasion of China the film stars Huang Bo as Niu'er, a not too bright peasant. His village has received a Dutch cow to provide milk for the wounded. When the Japanese bomb the village Niu'er flees only to return to village empty except for the dead...and the cow. He then has to fight off the Japanese and survivors wanting to make a meal of the cow.

A darkly funny tale this is one of those films that makes you laugh, and makes you think as we see the insanity of war and of human behavior. As much as we laugh at some of the silliness, we are also made aware of the cost of war as the disjointed nature of the narrative allows us to see the ultimate fate of many people we get to know and like.  Its a film  with moments where laughter catches in your throat.

Huang Bo is brilliant as our hero. Its clear he will protect the cow at all costs in order to return the cow to the army. The role requires him to walk a very fine line between dramatic performance and slapstick and he does so brilliantly, managing never to tumble over the line too far into one thing or the other. Watching him I was deeply moved. I can completely understand why the Subway Cinema guys like him so much.

Definitely one to search out. Its the sort of film that will make you wonder why more people don't know about the film.

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