Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Cell Phone (2003)

Feng Xiaogang made number of social satires.

I was undecided which section of the list of I put this movie in: comedy, social drama, or family drama. It's comedy, but as a social satire, it isn't a LOL type of comedy. I would put it in a family/relationship drama section if this occurrence is somewhat unique to few families. But it isn't. Since it hasn't done in an art-house fashion, and the issues aren't confined to China, I decide to put it in this section.

Cell phones are new even in the West, but to our central character who grows up in the village in the 1980s, throne of people have to wait outside a post office to use the only (land) phone in the village.

Before the invention of cell phone, suspicious wives relied on the sense of smell to sniff out husband's extramarital activity. Or a lock of hair that's belonged to neither couple. Such evidence collected by DIY CSI techniques are unreliable and all circumstantial.

The cell phones bring people closer together. Sometimes too close for people's liking. Especially cheating husbands. The cell phone becomes a tool for collecting extramarital evidence that are far more precise than the inexact science of sniffing of perfume or squinting at hair sample (could be leftover from previous grannie visits).

What seems incredible at least to the audience in the West is that the wives seem to be able to obtain printout records of her husband's cell phone calls. So, the husband's attempt to clear all traces of extramarital 'crime' by deleting the call logs on his cell phone are pretty futile. In the West, only the police WITH a warrant has such authority to look at people's cell phone call records (as far as I know. Either them or Rupert Murdoch's employees). I never have to deal with that issue.

Welcome to the brave new world of Orwellian 1984 where your wife is the Big Brother. Obviously, the problems aren't with the cell phones. But a deficit of trust. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. I guess the issues that the movie confronts - on both sides of the equation (cheating husband and suspicious wives) - is sadly universal, and timeless. Therefore, classic.

No. This isn't a date movie. Don't watch it with your significant - or insignificant - half. (S)He might get the wrong idea. Watch it with your lover(s) on the side. It's safer that way. Don't forget to turn off your cell phone when watching it to avoid intrusions into their lives like our 'hero'.

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