She, A Chinese is divided into a lengthy list of chapters detailing the journey of a stubborn Chinese girl from the monotony of a miserable small village. During this time she she learns the many ways in which a pretty Chinese girl can be objectified as a woman. In the normal course of events, these stages in Li Mei’s life I won’t dive into but what I can say is that this is a true coming to life story that is both real as it is raw. Although the story is great I just couldn’t handle the main actress. Everything is shallow and the girl is the worst type of woman I can think of – stupid, naive, and always depend on any men available easily like a parasite.
As enticing as all this might have looked on the paper, he performance makes everything feel bland, calculated and remote. Although the task of her ability was a big load, she is forced to survive hand-to-mouth in a society as unaccustomed to her as she to it. That brings me to the point that she makes it all the way to Britain eventually. The first part of the film is more successful than the rather meandering UK-based second half.
As much of an absorbing character study this film is, I just wish it would have been executed a bit smoother. Once she gets there, she gets a job at a massage parlor where she meets an aging widower who marries her. But soon she meets Rachid who runs a local Indian cafe, and moves in with him. It was a serious ‘WTF’ moment as you just sit back and watch her make bad choice after bad choice. The move to London gives the film scope and sweep, but ultimately out of place.
What the film really has to say about China’s fate in the modern world is not entirely clear. Each stage of Li Mei’s hazardous journey leads her closer to her Western ideal, and admittedly, it is fun to watch how the film progresses. Like I said, only big flaw here is the lead actresses unsympathetic character which doesn’t make her more likable in the long run. So many character pieces revolve around the slow exposure of a someone’s flaws and She, A Chinese is no different. It doesn’t do anything new but does keep things interesting. This is an engaging, impressively directed yet lazily acted which is good enough for a passing grade.