Shower (Xizao)

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


A product of the new independent cinema in China (the type of filmmaking unlikely to provoke government sanction), Zhang Yang’s Shower is an exquisitely realized example of storytelling that is rooted in truth and a potent neorealism. The overwhelming effects of modernism and transformation which China faces today are reflected in the lives of the denizens of an old-fashioned bathhouse. The bathhouse, once the center of social life, is now the haven for an aging populace of men, still drinking tea, playing chess, and betting on dueling crickets, while they sit covered with towels and sweat.

The proprietor of this deteriorating establishment is an elderly man named Lin, who, along with his feebleminded but sweetly industrious son, manages to hold the future at bay. Into this living past walks Daming, Lin’s oldest son, who mistakenly believes that his father has passed away. The thoroughly modern Daming views the near-preindustrial boilers, crumbling tile, and leaking pipes with a kind of benevolent contempt. Having left years ago to make his fortune in the south of China, he’s uncomfortable in this nineteenth-century milieu and finds it hard to relate to the father and brother he long ago left behind. Now he must face on a very personal level the meaning of change and the real importance of family. Much more than a simple elegy for times gone by, Shower is a moral tale that revels in human tragedy and triumph. It is bound to touch anyone who watches it.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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