We gave it an A-
In 1970s Communist China, millions of city kids were shuttled off to the country as part of a massive work program. One of them, Xiu Xiu (Lu Lu), is desperate to return home, despite her apprenticeship with a kind horse trainer (Lopsang). In a series of horrific barters, she offers sex to men in hopes that they’ll help her. The sacrifice is all the more brutal in comparison with the genuine friendship she shares with her trainer — a relationship delicately drawn against a glorious Asian backdrop.
(0:29) When Xiu Xiu’s friend indulges her with an unexpected hot bath, she looks as if the kindness might break her.
The last detail
Joan Chen’s directorial debut was filmed in Tibet without the Chinese government’s permission; she had to smuggle the undeveloped film out. The movie is banned in China.