Aftershock (15)

Starring: Xu Fan, Zhang Jingchu, Daoming Chen
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The Independent Culture

Feng Xiaogang's epic drama hinges upon a fateful decision made in the most nightmarish of circumstances.

In Tangshan, in 1976, seven-year-old twins lie injured and trapped beneath the rubble of a massive earthquake: their mother has been told that the rescue of one will almost certainly result in the death of the other. In her agony she chooses her son, yet the daughter, unbeknownst to them, survives and is adopted by an army couple. The plot, covering 32 years in the lives of these sundered twins, can be slow going, and the film's rather supine attitude towards Mao and his regime leaves an odd taste. The way it comes full-circle after another horrific earthquake in 2008 is also much too neat. On the plus side, Xu Fan gives a fine performance as the mother haunted for life by her choice, and the recreation of the Tangshan quake, which killed nearly a quarter of a million, is savagely realistic.

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