Three stories, four generations, and one family. One novel, one film, and now two books dealing with the film Jasmine Women.
Veteran Chinese cinematographer and second-time director Hou Yong was in Shenzhen last Friday to autograph the books of his script and log following the screening of Jasmine Women.
The movie, based on Su Tong's novel Women's Life, tells the story of a Shanghai family in which women of four generations repeat similar tragic love stories.
Zhang Ziyi plays mother, daughter, and granddaughter as the film moves from the 1930s to the 1950s and the 1970s.
The film debuted at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2004, where it won the Jury Prix Prize. Zhang won Best Actress at the Chinese mainland's most prestigious Golden Rooster Awards in 2004. But the domestic and international releases of the movie were delayed until April 25 due to conflicts among the film's investors.
The movie is attracting fans of Zhang Ziyi, with her current high international profile, along with the lure of period exotica.
Jasmine Women was the Golden Harvest's top domestic film during the May Day holiday, grossing 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) in box-office revenue in less than two weeks.
Not just a one-woman tour de force, the film's Chinese-American actress Joan Chen is also attracting attention. As Zhang Ziyi shifts between mother and daughter in various generations, Chen shows an impressive command of nuance in each of the mother roles that she plays.
Following last Friday's screening, director Hou Yong was interviewed by the Shenzhen Daily.
Shenzhen Daily: What made you want to make the movie?
Hou Yong: I read Su Tong's book Women's Life 11 years ago. I felt it was very beautiful, very smooth and very enjoyable. I had an idea at that time — let one actress play three women of three generations of the family. It is a feminist film.
SD: Why did you cast Zhang Ziyi in the lead?
Hou: I want the best actors in my film, of course, and Zhang is one of the best actresses of our time.
SD: But many people think the characters Zhang Ziyi has played are all very similar and she is not able to go beyond her own personality.
Hou: That's because she was not given the right roles. In Jasmine Women, she created each character perfectly, flawlessly. I give her a mark of 96. Zhang Ziyi's performance in the movie shows a brand new side of her and it will completely derail what you remember about her — teen idol, good girl, kung-fu girl.
(Shenzhen Daily May 9, 2006)