Cinema: Not One Less

Directed by Zhang Yimou

The remote Chinese village of Shuiquan needs a teacher, but the authorities send a girl to do an adult's work. And don't expect the 13-year-old (Wei Minzhi) to be an inspirational whiz with her balky pupils. She is no brighter or more resourceful than they; she breaks and loses things. In a cynical reading of the tale, she might be a political functionary in the vast Chinese bureaucracy, fighting small battles to achieve obscure goals. That also seems the case with Zhang, director of the classics Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern, who has been drifting artistically since he and...

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