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To Live

By Bret McCabe | Posted 6/16/2010

Director Zhang Yimou and actress Gong Li's late 1980s/early 1990s streak of movies together became one of the most critically lauded collaborations of the decade, yielding such art-house hits as Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou. The personal fave, though, is 1994's To Live, the deceptively simple tale of one family's suffering from the 1940s through the 1950s Great Leap Forward and on to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. And suffer they do: Fugui (Ge You) loses his family fortune gambling and is reduced to being a shadow puppeteer; his wife Jaizhen (Li) leaves him with their son, agreeing to come back only if he quits gambling altogether. What follows is nearly 30 years of enduring political and social hardships by a modest family that just wants to stay together. Melodramatic, but it hits its emotional buttons movingly well.

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