Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains
Chun jiang shui nan
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Young Chinese director Gu Xiaogang builds a masterfully rich, sophisticated family epic around the beautiful riverside landscapes of Fuyang, China. The film opens with the birthday celebration of Gu family matriarch. We meet her four adult sons; eldest Youfu who battles local gangsters while running his restaurant; fisherman Youlu, who hits it rich in a land deal; shifty debt-ridden gambler Youjin, softened by his visibly tender love for his mentally challenged son; and daft Youhong, who is romancing a woman perfect for him. Add to these Youfu’s schoolteacher daughter Guxi, whose love for her musical colleague Jiang Yi threatens to estrange her from her parents, and Gu sets in motion a family machine of uncommonly exquisite dramatic realism.
Gu takes inspiration from the great Taiwanese epic family filmmakers (Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang come to mind). His direct aesthetic inspiration is Huang Gongwang’s great Yuan dynasty scroll painting after which the film is named. But Gu transmutes the painting’s style into gloriously extended, breathtaking long shots that immerse the Gu brothers into slowly unfolding classical landscapes as their lives intertwine with passionate intensity and quiet beauty. One of the most sensational debut films of recent memory.
— Shelly Kraicer
Best Narrative Film, Best Director, First Film Festival Xining 19