Les Filles du botaniste
Dai Sijie :: France, China :: 2005 :: 1h45
Orphaned girl Li Min gets sent to a draconian botanist for a schooling placement where she meets An, his patient and dutiful daughter. The magical garden and the surrounding -surreal- countryside bears almost impossibly hidden and cultivated herbs which are poisonous, healing, meat eaters or hallucinogenic. Like Alice in wonderland, they are confronted with the hidden powers of plants. In parallel, they fall in love, with the added complexity that this relationship is illegal in 1980s China. Li Min and An develop a scheme to keep them together in the Botanist’s house to let their love blossom. Unfortunately, especially in the beginning of the movie, their budding love is unconvincingly presented, making the intended sensuous scenes which follow artificial. The violent shocks in the story-line do not make watching any easier either, forcing the viewer to take on a very lenient position towards the characters and their play, a requirement which was easily avoided with more attention to detail. In a few words: A missed chance to praise love, with two beautiful actresses and photography in almost unreal scenery.