Three Sisters Screen 10 articles

Three Sisters

2012

Three Sisters Poster
  • What we witness is the crisis that the Chinese labor market . . . has brought to bear on families, a microcosm for socialist capitalism’s callous march of “progress.” Wang requires every second of his running time, because this story continues to reveal unexpected layers of poetic resonance. To wit: Yingying wears a sweatshirt and on the back it reads “LOVELY DIARY.” It’s entirely to Wang’s credit that, despite the persistent hardships Yingying endures, this minor detail is in no way ironic.

  • Just as Jia's inimitable, deeply fascinating style, a rousing blend of observational documentary and shrewd narrative inventiveness, mirrors China's complicated state of being, Wang's no-frills style of documentation visually echoes a preadolescent trio's simple yet unforgiving world and its sense of labor as life.

  • The film’s tone is anything but despairing, and the absolute opposite of condescending. There is a kind of invincible energy, a life force that pushes our three heroines to survive, and Wang captures their world with unimaginable beauty and a compassionate, engaged, committed eye.

  • For its part, Three Sisters is both an extension and a refinement of Wang's thematic reach, while his unadorned, handheld digital aesthetic is as rigorous as ever. It's both squalid and oddly intoxicating in execution, a monument to a caste and an environment with beautiful details that support one another, somehow maintaining an entire society in the process.

  • Every shot of Three Sisters, of a new space, object, or just of the light, seemed deeply etched on the screen, revelatory of a totally lived in world—and lived through, the scars of time are visible on every surface of concrete, wood and landscape; with almost no instances of modern technology, this film nearly appears a glimpse at medieval times.

  • The director’s interest lies in their courage, strength and tenacity in spite of their environment. The result is an intimate study of the human spirit in a context that exemplifies its resilience that will surely humble anyone who sees the film.

  • Wang introduced Three Sisters as “a simple film” that “might be too long”. I appreciate his humility (a hallmark of his filmmaking, too), but I think he’s wrong on both counts. There’s nothing simple about this precise assemblage of footage collected during several visits to the girls’ remote farming village, and the length of the film is, in fact, essential to its success.

  • Fire burns in the face of Yingying, the dutiful, stoic eldest daughter who yearns to read and write and study, to discover something unattainable in this tiny, remote village. There is fire even in her dirty, white-hooded jacket with the words “Lovely Diary” on the back, a jacket she never takes off throughout the film. She never demands anything, and she barely speaks, yet she is one of the most compelling, most affecting figures in all of documentary cinema.

  • Not for the faint of heart or weak of bladder, Wang Bing’s two-and-a-half-hour “Three Sisters” documents extreme poverty in rural China with the compassionate eye and inexhaustible patience of a director whose curiosity about his country’s unfortunates never seems to wane.

  • Once Yingying's sisters have left . . . she herself, like her mother in a way, becomes a present absence. It’s a remarkable change that takes place in the film, and I’m very glad that I watched the long version of the film (there is a shorter version called Alone), because that really brings the whole power of this growing loneliness and this changing character of a little girl to the forefront.

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