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"Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl"

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Joan Chen's directing debut, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, is an uneven, sometimes affecting coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old city girl (Lu Lu) during China's Cultural Revolution who is removed from her family and assigned to live on the remote plains of Tibet with Lao Jin (Lopsang), a middle-aged Tibetan horse trainer. The relationship between the maidenly Xiu Xiu and Lao Jin, who was emasculated in a war and secretly loves her, is a shade too Chaplinesque. Chen wants us to appreciate her film as a bittersweet fable, but what we see is too grotesquely unsettling for that.


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