'At Middle Age" (at the Grande 4-Plex downtown) pays tribute to that generation of Chinese whose youth was blighted by the Cultural Revolution and whose contributions have not been properly appreciated or compensated. It is the third in the Grande's long-running New Films From China series and will play for two weeks.
While it is wise to keep in mind that films don't get made in China, let alone released abroad, without official sanction, it is clear directors Wang Qimin (also the cinematographer) and Sun Yu and writer Chen Rong have pulled few punches in their depiction of the hardships endured by a dedicated ophthalmologist (Pan Hong) struggling to combine a career with marriage and motherhood.
The film opens with Pan Hong felled by a heart attack after performing three delicate operations in one morning. As suspense builds as to whether she will survive the attack, the film starts flashing back. We see her falling in love with a young scientist (Da Shichang), the idyllic early years of their marriage soon blighted by Da Shichang's denunciation by the Red Guards. Now in his '40s, Da Shichang is still working on his thesis, slowed down by the black years of the Cultural Revolution and his having to spend precious study time cooking and caring for his children.