Poster of "Full Circle"
Hot on the heels of the runaway success of "A Simple Life", another film about old people is set to engage cinemagoers. Chinese director Zhang Yang's new film "Full Circle" will surely move audiences due to the powerful performances delivered by its crop of old actors.
"Full Circle" tells the story of a group of elderly people at a nursing home, dealing with issues such as inter-generational conflict and an aging population.
The film and its Chinese title somehow pay tribute to Miloš Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; but instead of slavishly following the dark theme of Forman's classic, Zhang has managed to produce a bittersweet family drama.
The nursing home is full of tragic tales. All residents have been abandoned by their children for various reasons. Some are weak and senile, some are simply waiting to die, some are begging for salvation, and some are finding interesting things to do. Despite the fact that all residents receive adequate care at the nursing home, none view it as their real home and none are able to leave.
Among the residents, one named Old Ge is writing his "bucket list" due to the fact that he is dying from bladder cancer. The motivation for Ge's list, apart from his terminal condition, is his desire to be reunited with his daughter, with whom he lost contact many years ago. The only information he has regarding her is that she moved to Japan. As a result, his last wish is to appear on a Japanese TV show which, he hopes, will enable him to find his daughter. To this end, he acts as the leader of a group of old men who rehearse their own show in order to get on TV. Despite their efforts, the chief nurse refuses to give the men permission to leave the home. Fortunately, thanks to the help of another lost old soul named Old Zhou, the group of old men manage to escape from the nursing home.
Director Zhang Yang, one of China's so-called sixth generation of directors, brilliantly starts the film with tense conflicts and despair, then injects it with optimism, hilarious plots and road movie elements. During the old men's adventure, tough family relationship issues are resolved, wishes are fulfilled, and there is forgiveness across the generations, which leads to greater understanding all round. Zhang, with a clever piece of visual imagery, ends "Full Circle" at sunrise, leaving us with a sense of comfort and hope, in keeping with the film's message.
Despite its apparently maudlin subject matter, "Full Circle" is never gloomy, and every scene is illuminated by convincing performances from the film's aging cast. Audiences will surely reflect on how they should treat their parents and grandparents in their final days. The veteran Chinese actors Wu Tianming, Xu Huanshan and Yan Bingyan give career-defining performances in the film.
"Full Circle" is executive produced by Ann An, Li Li and Zhang Qiang with the involvement of Desen International Media Co. Ltd and China Film Group Corporation. Fortissimo Films has picked up its international rights. The company has previously represented several of Zhang's earlier acclaimed films, including "Shower" (1999), "Quitting" (2001) and "Getting Home" (2006). "Full Circle" will officially hit Chinese cinemas on May 8.