Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

What about actress Joan Chen's prize-winning directing debut so angered the Chinese government that she has been entirely barred from working in China? Perhaps simply that the film — set in the 1970s during the waning days of the Cultural Revolution — makes a credible case against the excesses of Communist China, though Chen's uncompromising depiction...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
Rating:

What about actress Joan Chen's prize-winning directing debut so angered the Chinese government that she has been entirely barred from working in China? Perhaps simply that the film — set in the 1970s during the waning days of the Cultural

Revolution — makes a credible case against the excesses of Communist China, though Chen's uncompromising depiction of her naïve heroine's sexual exploitation probably didn't help matters. Xiu Xiu (Lu Lu), a city teenager from a loving family, is forcibly "sent down" to a remote rural work

camp to undergo political indoctrination. An exemplary worker, Xiu Xiu's special assignment takes her to the desolate Tibetan steppes, where she's apprenticed to horse herder Lao Jin (Lopsang). Lao, who has been castrated, poses no sexual threat to the innocent girl, so the two share one decayed

tent. But when her six-month tour of duty is up, Xiu Xiu is disappointed to find that no-one comes to take her home, and she becomes increasingly depressed and anxious, despite Lao's devoted platonic attention. Finally a peddler (Gao Qiang) reveals that the youth camp system is falling apart, and

any youth able to buy a permit that will allow him or her to return home has done so. He also makes romantic overtures, eventually overcoming Xiu Xiu's virginal protests with the promise of a permit in exchange for her favors. Instead, he advertises the fact that the naive Xiu Xiu will sleep with

any camp functionary. Chen's melodramatic approach isn't entirely inappropriate to this material, but she doesn't quite have the directing finesse necessary to pull it off. As a result, the wildly overwrought ending undermines the sympathy she so obviously wants us to feel for her beleaguered

characters.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: What about actress Joan Chen's prize-winning directing debut so angered the Chinese government that she has been entirely barred from working in China? Perhaps simply that the film — set in the 1970s during the waning days of the Cultural Revolution… (more)

Show More »