The ethereal private moments and inspired passages are beautifully shot by Jean-Marie Dreujou, but Dai never quite organizes the material dramatically, and the tone is too often jagged and disruptive. full review
A meditation on literature, love and remembrance that is able to find humor and hope in the dark days of the Cultural Revolution. Quite an achievement, we'd say.
The film is episodic, and most of the scenes are evocative and charming. full review
It's a fanciful tale, but the message is sweet -- that the higher arts speak a universal language that transcends politics and ignorance. full review
[A] tribute to the transforming power of books. full review
A nifty little film about the powers of culture and the humanities. full review
The movie may lose some of its bite when translated from page to screen, but it still delivers a valid message. When one of the boys starts reading good literature, life takes on new meaning.
Offers its share of little pleasures, but falls short of the greatness to which it aspires. full review
A funny, sad and absolutely lovely film.
If the movie is straightforward and predictable in its attitude, it also exudes a sort of documentary lyricism. full review
The elements in the story push all the right buttons, but the buttons don't seem to be wired to anything. full review
It's a lovely little movie about very big things, and the smallness both illuminates it and keeps it from greatness. full review
Sweet, funny, sad and profound -- the sort of film that becomes more remarkable when you realize it's based on someone's real life. full review
The transformation of the Little Seamstress is ambiguous and bittersweet and leaves you with the feeling that, like a character out of Balzac, her story will be one of loss of innocence. full review
Dai Sijie has created a dreamy memory of hardship -- part familiar Chinese parable, part familiar French romance. full review
Visually, Balzac is a jewel of a movie, with panoramic vistas of the lake on the mountain, framed in mist, where the villagers, in a haunting nighttime ceremony, float candlelit paper boats bearing the names of their dearly departed. full review
A fine, gentle film love story and a cinematic tribute to the power and manifold benefits of communications between different cultures and nations. full review