Rapid urbanization in China has compelled young adults to live a lonely and solitary life. In Chinese “kongchao qingnian,” literally, “young emptynester” or empty nest youth is a harsh reality of China’s urban life.
Though the Chinese movie ‘The Empty Nest’ directed by Wei Zang is about an old woman who is an empty nester. It is a melancholic story based on the novel ‘THE EMPTY NEST’ by Xue Yiwei. The movie ends with hope and realization by the central character Zhao Yemie that life is about moving on and not about pondering over the sad moments.
Zhao Yemie is played by Zhu Xijuan, a superstar of 1960s in China
Image: Tom J. Cull (Twitter account)
Zhou lives a lonely life in the city and is disillusioned with life. It’s tough for her to cope with her solitary life in old age. She suffers from urinary countenance and has a strained relationship with her son who keeps calling her. He tries to convince her to move in with him or move to a nursing home. Strained, dejected and lonely she feels hopeless. Zhou hardly steps out of her home and seems to be pushing her neighbours away and rarely trusts anyone.
But her life changes for good and Lei Xiaoding played by Zhang You who sells healthcare products enters her life to rekindle hope and optimism. Initially she distrusts him as well.
Though his caring and warm nature fills her life with joy. He gives her company and together they create some happy moments.
Lei is ambitious and wants to amass a huge fortune as quickly as possible. He cons Zhou who feels cheated and dejected.
The last 15 minutes of the movie are critical where the crux of the movie lies. Zho makes a choice to move on and realizes that she shouldn’t have pushed everyone away from her life.
While she was young her husband had betrayed her and she distanced herself from her son as well.
Actors are brilliant and seem to be living up to their character. Zhu Xijuan and Zang You are convincing. The scene where the old lady Zhao Yemie ties Lei Xiaoding to the chair and demands him to speak the truth is heart wrenching. Lei’s outburst and his pain v/s Zhao’s pain are juxtaposed.
Wei Zang’s direction doesn’t unnecessarily romanticize any scene. He has stuck to realistically picturizing the practicalities of living a lonely life.
Music composer Minami Nozaki’s music playing in the background in the last few moments of the movie express Zang’s emotional outpour.
The movie is simple yet profound, reflecting upon the effects of urbanization and loneliness it can drive people into. The race of achieving success, amassing wealth and the desire to make it big can drive youngsters to resort to dubious means ofcourse out of sheer desperation. It also reflects on the solitary life of empty nesters.
Reflections as a viewer and not a reviewer:
Moving on and enjoying the present moment is the crux of life. We might feel disillusioned about life, but it is just not the end. These moments of despair will end and happiness will revisit your life. But if you shut your heart to happiness you will sulk. So, move on.
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