Not One Less

Director Zhang Yimou is not just China’s premier director, but he also continues to prove that he’s among a handful of the world’s filmmaking elite. His movies (including To Live and The Story of Qiu Ju) are deceptively simple yet play like sweeping epics. The realism of Zhang’s work equals De Sica, and his heart rivals Capra. In Not One Less, he uses an amateur cast to tell the compelling story of a 13-year-old girl (Wei Minzhi) who is called upon to substitute for a schoolteacher who must go away for one month to care for his dying mother. The girl is poor, as are her students in their tiny mountain village, so the roughly $6 that she is promised for her month’s work is too much to pass up. However, if any students drop out, she will not be paid. When one student, an 11-year-old boy, is taken to the city to go to work, Wei must find a way to bring him back. Zhang’s tale builds very slowly, and it isn’t until well into the third act that the film takes us into its emotional grip. Let yourself be manipulated. You’re in the hands of a master. (G) Rating: 8

Categories: Movies