Spring in a Small Town

In cinemas now.

Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Spring in a Small Town is available to rent now on the BFI Player.

Regarded as the finest work from the first great era of Chinese filmmaking, Fei Mu’s quiet, piercingly poignant study of adulterous desire and guilt-ridden despair – now restored – is a remarkable rediscovery.

After eight years of marriage to Liyan – once rich but now sickly and almost suicidally apathetic following a long, ruinous war – Yuwen does little except deliver his daily medication. A surprise visit from Liyan’s friend Zhang re-energises the household, the invalid included. Liyan’s young sister is not alone in her excitement over the much-travelled guest; Yuwen knew him before her marriage… Eliciting a great performance from Wei Wei as Yuwen, whose wistful voiceover offers insights into her conflicted feelings, Fei creates a tense, sensual chamberwork steeped in suspicion and suppressed longing, deep resentments and half-spoken truths.

The deft use of locations, dissolves and camera movements makes for a fraught, febrile mood of hesitant passion, entrapment and ennui; sophisticated cinematically and psychologically, the film eschews sentimentality for something far more beguiling.

Geoff Andrew


From 20 June
BFI Southbank

From 20 June
Curzon Soho

From 20 June
Curzon Victoria

21 June
Curzon Richmond

20-26 June
Irish Film Institute, Dublin

27 June-03 July
Ritzy Brixton

27 June-03 July
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse

29 June-1 July
Glasgow Film Theatre

29 June
Riverside Studios

30 June-6 July
Duke of York’s Brighton

5, 8 July
National Media Museum

09-10 July
Watershed Bristol

18-20 July
MAC Birmingham

18-24 July
Tyneside Cinema

18-21 July
Belmont Aberdeen

23-24 July
Eden Court Inverness

28 July
Quad Derby

10 August
Rio Dalston

26, 28 August
Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Brighton

14 September
Showrooms Sheffield

28 September, 1 October
Cornerhouse Manchester

17 October
QFT Belfast

With special thanks to The China Film Archive.

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