I Am Not Madame Bovary (12A)

I Am Not Madame Bovary (12A)

Directed by Xiagong Feng
Picturehouse, Liverpool
26th May – 1st June 2017

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is an unusual film in a number of ways, not least the use of three forms of screen framing at different times.

Predominant is a round, telescopic frame, which is similar to the framing of Chinese traditional paintings, windows and womens coloured fans.

It could also be construed as the unseen forces occurring around the main character in the film, Lian (Fan Bingbing).

The other framing sizes used are portrait (as in photography) and full screen cinemascope.

Lian owns a cafe in a small town in China, who puts together a plan with her husband Qin (Li Zonghan) to acquire a bogus divorce as a means to remain in their top-grade apartment, reserved by the Chinese government exclusively for single people.

But Lian is left perplexed when, as soon as the divorce is approved (or so it seems!), Qin backtracks on the idea and pairs up with another woman.

Lian is highly incensed by this betrayal by Qin and takes her case, that the divorce was fake, to the highest authorities in China, by whatever means she can muster.

In effect, she wants to re-marry Qin just to divorce him for real. Yes, it is that sort of film!

Her case is even discussed at the National Party Congress of the Chinese government.

What the movie illustrates, amid Lian’s struggles, vividly captured by director Xiagong Feng, is the incompetent and patronising manner of lawmakers and politicians.

This is not just a social critique against such people holding power in China, but generally on a global scale.

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