The Promised Land
The Promised Land was a serene end to my TIFF experience. A Chinese film directed by veteran director He Ping, it’s subtle beauties are there for those in the mood for a quieter examination of life in China.
The film explores the lives of Ling Ai (Wang Jiajia) and He Jiang (Zhang Yi), who left their rural towns for the lure of opportunity in Beijing. Both have careers in activities imported from the West, Ai in ballet, and Jiang in ice hockey. They teach their respective skills to the young, as they find their own lives torn between the opulence and opportunity of Beijing, and the beauty and tranquility of the rural countryside.
The Promised Land’s strength lies in its performances. Wang Jiajia and Zhang Yi are wonderful as the romantic couple, their performances replete with little movements of authenticity that arise from young lovers such as these. Wang Jiajia’s grace is fully displayed in her yoga and dance skills, and add a sense of awe whenever she performs.
The story is ultimately of how He Jiang brings Ling Ai and her estranged father together. Its narrative is slow and gentle, requiring patience from eh viewer to enjoy the film not for its plot, but its beauty in cinematography and performance. While I was initially confused about the timeline of the film, it did not stop me from enjoying these quiet, intimate moments for the beauty they hold.