A Chinese girl's experience of the UK

PUBLISHED: 16:30 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 07 September 2010

She, A Chinese (18) Director Xiaolu Guo Starring Lu Huang, Wei Yibo, Geoffrey Hutchings, Chris Ryman 98 mins Released February 26 Three star rating China s single child policy may be a laudable contribution to tackling the global population explosion

She, A Chinese (18)

Director Xiaolu Guo

Starring Lu Huang, Wei Yibo, Geoffrey Hutchings, Chris Ryman 98 mins

Released February 26

Three star rating

China's single child policy may be a laudable contribution to tackling the global population explosion but when you consider the prospect of the world's most populous nation being run by a whole generation of spoilt single children, you do wonder if they've really thought it through.

Li Mei (Lu Huang) has never been more than five miles from her home and is stuck in an off-shoot of the middle of nowhere, passing her days setting up the balls on the pool table at a roadside bar and aggravating her mother by not helping to feed the pigs. She may not have much but that won't stop her being stroppy; an innate contrariness makes her thumb her nose at all the unsatisfactory options. So far, so Fish Tank, but big changes are coming which will take her first to the nearest big city and then to the land of Big Ben.

Writer/ director Xiaolu Guo's narrative style is the equivalent of dropping in unexpectedly on a neighbour. We see snatches of her story introduced by title cards. Plenty of loose ends are left untied.

It works well but she rather abuses it in the second half with the abrupt introduction of a major and unexpected plot development that isn't sufficiently set up or explored to be credible. It gnaws at your faith in the film.

The opening section in China is generally stronger than the stuff in Britain. It is an involving journey helped by Lu Huang's performance and the film's bold refusal to make her sympathetic and keep audience empathy at arm's length.

There are a number of films (In This World, Ghosts) all about the rotten experiences of immigrants coming to this country. They are all made with the utmost liberal credentials but you wonder if the Home Office isn't involved there somewhere, covertly getting the message out Stay Away, You Won't Like It Here.

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