Shower

A drama set in and around a traditional Chinese communal bathhouse for men, whose increasingly elderly patrons value it as much for the sense of community it fosters as for the opportunity to banish their aches and pains with a warm soak followed by an invigorating massage. A businessman who's embraced the economic realities of the new, fast-paced China,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A drama set in and around a traditional Chinese communal bathhouse for men, whose increasingly elderly patrons value it as much for the sense of community it fosters as for the opportunity to banish their aches and pains with a warm soak followed by

an invigorating massage. A businessman who's embraced the economic realities of the new, fast-paced China, Da Ming (Pu Cun Xin) receives a disturbing postcard from his mentally challenged brother Er Ming (Jiang Wu); it suggests that their elderly father, Master Liu (Zhu Xu) has died. So Da Ming

heads home, only to find his dad alive and well. Guilted into spending a few days with his family, Da Ming helps out in the bathhouse and begins to see what vital parts of the community his father and brother are. Master Liu gives advice, settles squabbles, handles minor medical matters and helps

his patrons feel vital and connected. Running the bathhouse and caring for Er Ming gives Master Liu's life focus and meaning, while Er Ming's simple joy in life's routines charms everyone who knows him. But there are dark clouds on the horizon: The entire district is slated for demolition to make

way for a shopping mall, and Mr. Liu is frailer than he lets on. A mix of family drama and a nostalgic look at a way of life that's rapidly disappearing in modern China, this gentle, slow-moving film contains some charming sequences but no new insights into the pleasures and burdens of family. The

title alludes to a business one of Master Liu's younger customers hopes to launch: He envisions high-tech public shower stalls in which time-pressed patrons will be scrubbed and rinsed by machines, like cars in a car wash. His conviction that this is progress encapsulates the movie's melancholy

message.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: A drama set in and around a traditional Chinese communal bathhouse for men, whose increasingly elderly patrons value it as much for the sense of community it fosters as for the opportunity to banish their aches and pains with a warm soak followed by an in… (more)

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