Director Wang Xioshuai’s reflection on China’s “one-child policy,” the film traces thirty years in the life of a Chinese family, as well as their friends, workmates, and relatives.
A family of metallurgical workers with one child live in China in the early 1990s when the wife discovers that she is pregnant again. Persuaded by the union representative, she has an abortion which goes wrong and the woman is no longer able to have children. Soon after, her son dies in an accident. The film simultaneously follows the lives of dozens of other characters. Whereas some lose jobs or go to prison, others manage to make money quickly and become rich in the new era. Changes affect everyone.
With its lengthy melancholic looks, wide shots, and a bit of properly dispensed drama, So Long, My Son has an almost melodramatic feel to it. Wang Xiaoshuai uses these instruments to demonstrate the variety of transitions China has lived through in the past three decades, revealing what is left behind after political turbulence and the changing course of the party: forever altered, if not entirely broken, human lives and the wounds of the past aching again and again, even if being healed.
So Long, My Son
Director Wang Xiaoshuai
China, 2019. 175 min. 18+