This time, Hao Zhao is alone at the helm of this feature film project based on a short story by contemporary novelist WANG Zhanhei, a young, successful Chinese author. Over several years, we follow Qing Qhui - a lively thirty-year old woman stuck in a listless marriage in the outskirts of Shanghai - as she seeks to free herself from her condition. Through flashbacks, we discover Qing Qhui’s family background and her desire, ever since she was a little girl, to escape her family’s - and especially her mother’s - grip.
The themes of this first feature film are rather similar to those in Fang Ke: the struggle to find where one fits in the family and society, the inability to communicate with one’s relatives - especially in a country where women are significantly restrained in their life choices. The director’s exact composition of his frames, and his use of textures convey how damp Shanghai is, and how integral rain and the permanent threat of typhoons are to the mindset of Shanghai residents. The frenzy of the city mirrors the character’s inner turmoil, forever treading the difficult line between her pursuit of happiness and her family’s emotional legacy.