Directed by Jia Zhangke, Still Life tells a story about two separate lives, a man and a woman, each trying to find their own spouses for very different reasons. For those who are interested in watching this film, just be warned – it’s a verrrryyyyy slowwwww paced film.
Still Life was filmed in Fengjie village, residing in a small town on the Yangtze River. I feel that the slow pacing of the film reflects the current state of the Yangtze River at that juncture of time. The condition of the river was slowly deteriorating due to the erection of the Three Gorges Dam and it affected the residents living near the river. They cannot do anything about it but to accept the impending fate of the village. Majority needed to be relocated and until the dam is fully built, they just have to slowly live their lives out while accepting their fate. I can only imagine the restlessness they felt and I feel the feelings they were feeling were accurately portrayed by the style of directing.
Not only did the cinematography/slow pace of the film mirrors that of the situation in real life China, but I also feel that the mise en scène of certain scenes brought across a certain message. Some of the scenes were overexposed, blowing out the details and highlights, unabling the viewers to properly make out what the scenes contained. This suggests that maybe Jia Zhangke was subtly implying that the future of the village residents was obscure, mirroring that of the hard-to-see scenes. Not only that, but I also feel Zhangke was implying more than just that – he was trying to tell us that the future of the residents was not just obscure, but bleak; as apparent from majority of the scenes that were dark and gloomy.