Song Chuan’s second feature Ciao Ciao puts a microscope over country living in China by telling a homecoming story in a fresh, new way. The opening shots of the film are luscious wides of green mountains, with a fancy car driving through a farmer and his herd. This is Ciao Ciao, arriving back from her exciting life in Canton to her home village. She is back to help her parents whilst waiting to set up a business with her friend. However due to her fickle and arrogant nature she stalls and ends up staying longer, soon becoming the object of desire for the son of local fraudster.
The friend she longs for could potentially be a girlfriend, as this is the only person Ciao Ciao is affectionate toward in the film, but it is never confirmed. She uses men to get closer to her goal of going back to Canton, whilst satisfying her parents’ wishes of providing for them She is never affectionate with her lovers, just makes herself sexually available. She scorns, smokes and totters around whilst helping at her Mother’s shop. Her parents seem to use her as a business bargaining tool, to which she seems emotionless.
Chaun has a brilliant sense of colour throughout the film and the soundtrack complements the titular character’s arc. The plot maybe moves a bit quick as it seems like no sooner does Chiao Chiao arrive does she get thrown into a very significant moment in her life. She is also so unlikeable that you’re never really routing for her to live her dream and escape the misogynistic world of rural life. However, maybe that’s just what the film is trying to show – that it’s a dog eat dog world when money and security are involved.
One motif (purposeful or accidental) that stuck with me throughout was the constant sound of buzzing. Whether it was on the farm, in a restaurant or during the character’s sexual dalliances. It was a really powerful sound and visual as it seemed to represent the community’s corruption and outdated morals. Great fly acting, but not as good as old Dr.Brundle, of course.
A difficult yet rewarding watch and would love to see what Song Chuan does with a big budget feature!
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.