Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sentimental comedy latest hit film in China



Sentimental comedy latest hit film in China

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Audiences are cramming into Chinese cinemas to watch a sentimental comedy – Jia Ling’s Hi, Mom – that has rapidly become one of the most popular films of all time in the country and marks a triumphant debut for its female director. AFP

Sentimental comedy latest hit film in China

Audiences are cramming into Chinese cinemas to watch a sentimental comedy that has rapidly become one of the most popular films of all time in the country and marks a triumphant debut for its female director.

Since its release a fortnight ago, Jia Ling’s Hi, Mom has become the fourth best-selling film ever in China with ticket sales of at least 4.3 billion yuan ($670 million), according to box-office tracker Maoyan.

If it continues its monumental success, Hi, Mom could become the highest-grossing movie ever by a female director.

Jia also plays the lead role as the daughter who travels back to 1981, before she was born, and tries to give her mother a better life than the one she had the first time around.

The film is partly biographical and an ode to Jia’s mother, who died in an accident when Jia was 19.

“Mum, don’t go, don’t leave me,” Jia says in the film – dissolving many in cinema audiences into tears, even though it is for the most part a comedy.

Chinese cinemas are largely back to normal after the country wrestled down coronavirus infections to a comparative trickle, and the film has given many a renewed appreciation of their mothers.

“I have never thought before that my mum was also a young girl in the past,” said college student Yu Yanting after seeing the film in Shanghai.

Thirteen-year-old Vittoria and younger sister Valeria, 11, were inconsolable after watching it with their mother.

“I hope they will appreciate mummy more now,” said their mother Elaine, holding her two daughters close.

Overcoming her tears after a few minutes, a red-eyed Vittoria said behind her face mask: “All my friends are crying to this film, but maybe not as much as me.”

Mother’s love like air

Jia, who prior to this was best-known as a comedian in the male-dominated world of Chinese comedy, said that she was “tormented” when her mother died suddenly.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A man walks past a poster for the movie Hi, Mom at a cinema in Beijing on February 20. AFP

But she hopes that rather than thinking of it as a sad film, audiences will appreciate her mother’s spirit and optimism.

“Our mum’s love for us is like air – it is there since we were born, so we often ignore it,” Jia told state television.

“But when we lose it, we experience a sense of suffocation and helplessness.”

Film critic Jing Runcheng said that Hi, Mom has become an outlet for Chinese people to let their pent-up emotions flow, and knowing it is based on a true story gives it an extra impact.

“Chinese people are really introverted and not good at expressing their feelings,” said Jing.

“You never imagine Chinese people will suddenly, after watching a movie or reading something, run to their mothers and tell them they love them.

“But after watching this film, it helps give you that opportunity.”

Hi, Mom has been trending on Twitter-like Weibo, with one hashtag relating to the film drawing more than 1.5 billion views.

Many people have taken to Weibo to celebrate their mothers, posting pictures of themselves together or snaps of their mums when they were young.

The film has also sparked discussion online about what people would tell their mothers if they could go back in time, like in the film.

Many said they would tell their mothers not to marry their fathers or have children.

Marriage breakups have surged over the last two decades in China as divorce laws were liberalised and women became more financially independent.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and