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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.5%
Average: 29.17%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.17%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Dear America: Why don't we have bathhouses? I want them. Love, Eric."
5 stars

"Shower" is a jovial film exploring an aspect of Chinese culture with which most Americans are utterly unfamiliar: the public bathhouse.

As presented here, the bathhouse is a major part of small-town society. It's where men sit around and play board games, gossip, have massages, and (if there's time) take baths. Without the bathhouse, there is no social structure.

By contrast, the film opens with an amusing scene in which a big-city man uses an automatic public shower -- which looks every bit like a car wash, by the way, no doubt an intentional effect.

The simple story has Da Ming (Pu Cun Xin) returning from the city to the small town in which he grew up. The reasons for this are not clearly explained, but it would seem he mistakenly believed his father to be dead, thanks to a photo his retarded brother Er Ming (Jiang Wu) mailed him.

But dad, Master Liu (Zhu Xu), is alive and quite sturdy, still running the bathhouse Da Ming worked at in his youth. Liu is bothered by his older son's haughty attitude toward village life, and clings tightly to Er Ming as his last remaining loyal relative.

News comes soon that the city is planning to tear down the entire district, bathhouse and all, to make room for high-rises. Additionally, Master Liu takes ill and Da Ming has to help his brother mind the store.

Naturally, there is a change of heart, and Da Ming's return to his roots helps him reassess his values. Fortunately, the film is not as trite as that. Da Ming is never made out to be a materialistic jerk; he's just gotten away from his former way of life (he even takes SHOWERS now, instead of baths). Whatever it is pressing him to return to the big city is kept a minor force: We know he has a wife and a job, but we don't know any details on either of them. It's not meant to be a battle of wills between the country boy Da Ming and the city boy Da Ming. It's just a grown man becoming reacquainted with his former old-fashioned values.

Master Liu, meanwhile, is demonstrated to be a remarkable old man indeed. His bathhouse is what keeps life together for these people, and he's not just the guy who runs it. He's a referee, marriage counselor, confidant and dispenser of sage advice. His lengthy story about the importance of water and bathing belies the film's overall simplicity and is ultimately a bit out of place; however, it all comes back to the present in time for a bittersweet, good-hearted finale.

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originally posted: 07/06/03 19:49:46
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User Comments

11/17/04 Duke Student Deep and touch; and chris, dont be a bitch by dissing it like a 1 year old no brainer 5 stars
11/11/04 Elizabeth Great commentary on Chinese's modernization and the conflicts it brings. 5 stars
7/07/04 Charlie Very enjoyable 5 stars
3/31/04 Mougi Not so good, but it makes you think of many things in life 3 stars
7/22/03 Chance wonderful movie without being sappy 5 stars
3/05/02 Skiv The old guys with the fighting crickets made the movie! 4 stars
7/06/01 Genghiz cute,touching.Nice cinematography,only fatboy singing irritates me. But thats OK too. 5 stars
11/10/00 skye liked it. nice movie. 4 stars
9/29/00 Viking Well meaning, but a little sentimental. 4 stars
8/26/00 Avi Vardi touching comedy 5 stars
7/14/00 chris B-Movie, sve your money pay to see scary movie 1 stars
7/14/00 Heather This moving, uplifting little Chinese gem of a movie is well worth seeking out 5 stars
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Directed by
  Yang Zhang

Written by
  Liu Fen Dou

  Wu Jiang
  Pu Cun Xin
  Zhu Xu

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