Celebrated documentarian Wang Bing (West of the Tracks, Three Sisters) returns with this deeply affecting visual document of a dying elderly woman in a little village in southern China.
A deeply affecting visual document about a dying elderly woman, Wang Bing's Mrs. Fang is a disturbing, alternative look at contemporary China's cultural upheaval. Part of the retrospective of Wang's works selected for the prestigious documenta 14 contemporary art show, this dangerous and devastating film might be the director's most extreme masterpiece.
Weaving sharp political awareness into the emotional fabric created by the image of a person lying on their deathbed, Wang zeroes the distance between his camera, his subject, and his aesthetic. What results is something other than just the chronicle of a death.
Surrounded by the careless chatter of family and neighbours, Fang Xiuying is slowly dying in a modest room, somewhere in a village in Southern China. Deprived of all intellectual faculties by Alzheimer's and reduced to the unconscious fragility of her body, she is marginalized and abandoned. Around her, the living are busy making money, talking of making more money, smoking, playing on their phones, or fishing in shallow waters.
Only Wang's camera seems to care about Xiuying. Probing her innocent expressions, searching for a trace of humanity, Wang pushes the limits of his filmmaking. He produces a haunting image, the reflection of a shattered millenary culture swallowed by bulimic capitalism, where memory loss is a common condition and the attitude towards life and death has been radically transformed.