FILM REVIEW BY LANI LUO – “Wake up. This is the new China. Things need to be planned and centrally controlled.”
This quote comes from a short film written by Craig Rosenthal called Shanghai Love Market. Clearly, the title indicates that the story is not an academic critique on the governing system of Communist China. Nevertheless, the topic of the film is actually very political and pertinent to modern China. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the dating scene.
Shanghai Love Market is inspired by true events, where parents congregate in a park to hang up personal flyers on behalf of their unwed only-children. Then they “shop” around the park to look at other flyers and find the perfect match for their daughter or son. The film features two parents who are doing just that.
Light and comedic, this short film captures China’s courting culture and critiques it at the same time. Shanghai Love Market makes several important points that are worthy of highlighting. One of which is China’s One Child Policy.
The One Child Policy overwhelmingly affects courting in China. From the get-go, a Chinese marriage is not a laissez-faire event. This family-oriented culture believes that matrimony is not just a union between two lovers, but it is a union between the two lovers and their families. Thus, the tradition calls for the active involvement of the parents. And with the enforced One Child Policy, parents feel the need to be engaged in their only child’s business from birth to death. Every single part of the child’s life needs to be planned out so that he or she can succeed in money and love. And in turn, mom and dad can comfortably retire.
Although out of love, the overwhelming parent engagement is ridiculous. In fact, it can be dangerous for the child’s growth of personal responsibility. In fact, the “children” in this film are not “children” at all, but grown and legal adults. However, their parents still see them as small children who are incompetent of finding their own spouse.
Thankfully, the storyline takes a turn and leaves the audience surprised. I will not spoil it, but I will say that it is a refreshing twist. Unlike the present socio-condition in China, the final ending sends out the right message about dating, marriage, and love. Click the link below to see for yourself.