Friday, 9 July 2010


A follow-up to Liu Jiayin’s debut feature, Oxhide II continues the set-up as the director and her parents go about an average day in the house. This time around, the family sit around the table for a dinner of dumplings, discussing problems and the wavering future of their handbag stall. Mother and Father prepare the food at a leisurely pace, perhaps preoccupied with the worries of tomorrow, while Daughter joins in only at the instruction of her Mother. Despite the almost ceremonial diligence the ingredients are treated with, the completed meal arrives on the table with little fanfare, and conversation stays on the subject of Daughter’s inadequacy and clumsiness.

It is easiest to say that Oxhide II is deceptively simple. In keeping her camera static, Liu ensures that the family (and their cats) are the only moving objects, and our focus is thus drawn to their actions alone. Unfortunately, its simplicity is also its downfall, as an attempt to form a more minimalist narrative removes some of the heart that was seen in the film’s predecessor. An exceptionally long take in which Daughter chops vegetables carries a certain cultural relevance as well as establishing her status in the family, but may not have needed to last as long in order to make an impact. Nonetheless, there is something new to Oxhide II as a basic daily ritual is given a feature-length presentation, and the viewer is left to ponder how much one can learn about life if they look closer.

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