Girls Always Happy
Rou qing shi
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
This sparkling screwball melodrama-comedy is a first feature written, directed, edited by, and starring Yang Mingming, one of China’s brightest young cinema talents.
In an ancient hutong lane in modern Beijing, aspiring screenwriter Wu (Yang) and her middle-aged mother (accomplished actress/producer Nai An) live in a tiny apartment. They are at fierce loggerheads whenever they’re not making up, usually over tasty Beijing-style dinners. As Wu deftly scooters around her neighbourhood, avoiding the local gossips while visiting her comfortably middle-class boyfriend (Zhang Xianmin), her mom copes with the various men the two of them probably don’t actually need in their lives, not the least of whom is Wu’s grandfather, whose possession of a far more comfortable modern flat leads the two women to scheme incessantly about their potential inheritance.
Here, a daughter and a mother’s mutually dependent relationship is portrayed with astonishing sensitivity and complexity: they alternately practice tearing each other down, then picking each other up in a cyclical family dynamic that, though comically heightened, seems vividly lifelike. Intense, joyous and irrepressibly witty, Girls Always Happy (one wonders how ironic the title is intended to be) offers a vivid portrayal of a slice of Chinese urban life as redefined by two indomitable, vibrantly alive women.
— Shelly Kraicer
FIPRESCI Award, Panorama, Berlin 18