The World

Rated NR 2005

A languid Chinese film (with English subtitles) about a group of young people who have come to Beijing from the provinces to work at World Park, a theme park whose attractions consist of scaled-down replicas of famous sites (the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and where tourists travel "around the world" by monorail or motorboat. The central characters are Tao, who (like most of the women we meet) is a dancer, and her boyfriend Taisheng, who (like the other men) is a security guard. The terrific opening shot reveals Tao wandering in and out of dressing rooms in search of a bandage. The rest of the film simply observes the ups and downs of its characters' daily lives -- but because it does so in wide, static shots, it's difficult to discern which of the 20-plus characters is onscreen. Brief snippets of animation take you even further out of the story. This is the first of director Jia Zhangke's films not to be banned in China.

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