Meili Xin Shijie is a low budget, independent production shot by a first time director, dealing with modern themes in an urban setting. It is quite revealing in its portrayal of contemporary China where society is changing rapidly, leaving some with fortunes and others with empty dreams. The changes occur too quickly for even those who experience it to understand. The effect these changes have on common men and traditional social values and morality is the main message of the film, which is ironically narrated in the manner of Suzhou Pingtan, a traditional style of southern Chinese storytelling which has been disappearing from common use. The story revolves around a country boy, Bao Gun, and his not-so-pleasant introduction to city life. Winner of a newspaper contest for a two-bedroom apartment in Shanghai, he arrives in the big city to claim his prize only to discover he must wait a year and a half for the apartment to be built. He meets an array of cosmopolitan characters whose way of life contrasts sharply with his values and dreams. His aunt, who is about the same age as him, owes money to everyone and thinks only of easy ways of making money. The subway musician he befriends has lost his dreams in the hustle of the city. Bao Gun has only his own common sense and moral values to guide him through this journey. The film ends with a Hollywood style happy-ending. Bao Gun is played with lots of energy by Jiang Wu, the younger brother of China's leading actor Jiang Wen, whereas Tao Hong, winner of China's Best Actress in 1998, plays the scheming aunt. The subway musician is played by Wu Bai, Taiwan's top-selling rock artist and Ren Xian Qi, China's best selling pop musician, appears as a boy who steals young girls' hearts with the expensive car he drives -- until they find out that he is only a chauffeur. The film features a soundtrack produced by Asia's top alternative label, Music Stone. Meili Xin Shijie was screened as part of the International Forum of Young Cinema at the 49th International Berlin Film Festival, 1999.
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