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Simon Read [Film Festival 07.01.08] movie review comedy drama

Year: 2007
Release date: Unknown
Director: Wayne Wang
Writers: Michael Ray & Yiyun Li (short story)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 6.9 out of 10

The Princess of Nebraska is a comedic drama from the director of ‘Maid In Manhattan’, but don’t panic. The film follows a young Chinese woman who arrives in America to abort the unborn child of her bi-sexual ex-boyfriend back in Shanghai. Li Ling plays Sasha who, upon arriving in San Francisco is greeted by Boshen (Brian Danforth), her ex’s ex. The two have a tempestuous relationship with Sasha’s selfish nature (her hero is Paris Hilton because she ‘does whatever she wants’) conflicting with Boshen’s upper middle class, intellectual lifestyle.

Sasha wanders the streets, casually shoplifting designer labels and hooking-up with various unsavory characters including a cynical lesbian prostitute and an equally world weary barman who chastises Sasha for having grown-up in ‘new China’ while his adolescence is mired by the fact that, “Beneath 1000 tons of steel, my family [are]”. It’s encounters like this which begin to change Sasha’s perspective and convince her that perhaps keeping the child and beginning a new life in America might be the best option.

Clocking in at around 70 minutes Princess of Nebraska is virtually a short, but it works well that way. The story is a snippet really, a series of scenes and encounters where we are introduced to Sasha and her tricky situation, the choices she faces and the lessons she learns. Wang is certainly a competent director who uses a variety of styles such as using mobile phone videos for the more personal moments Sasha experiences. The supporting cast really carry the film and Qing Lin as May the call girl stands out with an affecting performance and some of the best lines, such as her introduction when she meets a lost and distraught Sasha, “No balls around here Cinderella, you lost or what?”. Sasha’s ‘friends’ as well manage to highlight her grave situation by acting like jerks, offering such sage advice as, “Get rid of the kid and have cocktail!”.

The film also works as a comment on the current situation in China, with a tense dinner party scene where a snooty guest mentions the sex divide, reasoning that with all the female children in China being abandoned and killed over the past decades there are now more males than females by far, and thus females are treated better by men. Sasha’s flippant response - “You clearly know nothing about China”.

Princess of Nebraska is a low-key yet touching drama, easy enough to watch it gave me that wonderful feeling on leaving the cinema that I’d seen something really worthy and would be justified in going home and watching my dvd of Hackers. Somewhere between Greg Araki’s nihilistic teenfest ‘Nowhere’ and Wong Kar-Wai’s emotional ‘In the Mood for Love’, it’s a well done little drama.

PS: That’s it from me for this years EIFF, many thanks to Quiet Earth. Keep on rocking everyone and for the love of God, if you can, see Idiots and Angels.

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cyberhal (13 years ago) Reply

great reviews projectC, i hope i can make it to eiff one day

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