Feng Shui? Or Life?

By Yvonne Lo

Feng Shui is one of few films selected to be in the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival. This film was directed by Wang Jing and set in the mid-‘90 in Wuhan, central China. It is the story about a working class woman’s struggle to improve her status and how she deals with the hardships of life. She has a tough-love personality that is controlling and demanding, which drives her family to the brink of madness. This film can be considered melodramatic, but a gripping family drama at its very best.

Li Baoli (Yan Bingyan) is a tortured soul who continues to torment and abuse her husband and her studious young son. Her husband, Ma Xuewu (Jiao Gang) secures himself a middle-management job as team leader at a factory and upgrades his family to a more spacious and modern house.

Despite his consistent effort to support the family, she continues to scorn heap upon her husband. Pushed to his limit, Ma XueWu tells Li Baoli that he wants a divorce. Depressed and suspicious, she decides to follow her husband one day. She follows him all the way to a hotel room with one of his female colleague. In anger, she calls the police and informs them that there is prostitution going on. The news spread to the higher-ups in the factory and Ma XueWu was fired. He decides to take the only way out and jumps.

Fast forward to ten years later, Li Baoli is working as a yoke-bearer porter in the market to help finance her family and son’s tuition. While she is doing everything she can to support her son, he harbours resentment and hatred for his mother. He prepares himself for the day to leave for university so he will have nothing more to do with his mother.

The film’s title comes from a comment by Li Baoli’s best friend from her home village (a woman who has an unhappy marriage with a wealthy man). She says Li Baoli’s new apartment has bad Feng Shui and that “10,000 arrows pierce the heart” of the flat. She blames the apartment, but Li Baoli just puts it down to hardness of life.

Was this fate always meant for this family? Or was it because of bad feng shui?

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