French film touches and confuses Chinese audiences

2019-12-03 06:25:55 GMT2019-12-03 14:25:55(Beijing Time) Sina English
Poster of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Photo: WeiboPoster of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Photo: Weibo

Widespread praise on Chinese social media emerged over the weekend over the latest film from Canadian director Ken Scott, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir. Many Chinese netizens commented on how the film made them cry, which was released Friday on the Chinese mainland. 

The film follows Indian actor Dhanush, who plays 'Aja,' a poor man who lives with his single mother. Aja dreams of taking his mother to Paris, but her untimely death prevents him from fulfilling his dream. 

Aja sets off for Europe to find his father, embarking on a metaphorical journey through France and parts of Europe. 

"Mom, are we very poor?" 

"No, we are very rich because we have each other." 

This exchange is just one example of how the film has touched the hearts of Chinese audiences.

"The best part of the whole film, I think, is when Aja asks his mom if the men he met were his dad," commented one Chinese netizen on Sina Weibo. 

However, as audiences were moved by Aja's childhood, many thought his adventures were "absurd" and "chaotic." 

The film is an adaptation of the best-selling French novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe.

"I feel that I was deceived by the movie's name. I thought I would see the tragic story of a filial young man going to Paris for his deceased mother, while it turned out to be about a poor man's ridiculous adventures traveling through Europe," said another Chinese netizen on Douban, a Chinese film review platform.

At different points in Aja's journey, he finds himself traveling in an IKEA wardrobe and later in a suitcase. 

"The plot is not logical at all. How could Aja appear in the female celebrity's wardrobe without being taken out by security guards? The film misguides young people," said another netizen on Douban. 

The film has a 7.2/10 rating on Douban, and according to China's top box office ticket platform Maoyan, earning 3.49 million yuan ($497,361) as of Monday. 

The film follows a standard Hollywood-Bollywood narrative, outside of the key events that move the story forward, which are coincidental and come across as far-fetched," said Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic and teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, to the Global Times on Monday.

However, Shi noted the film still had something to offer for Chinese filmmakers. 

"The film describes the global phenomenon of refugees and immigrants against a globalized background. This humanistic care that reflects reality is what Chinese film should learn from, especially considering our efforts to bring our films out of China. Telling a 'Chinese story' is the first step, but telling a good story about China and the world should also be considered," Shi said.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir was released in France on May 30, 2018, and hit the theater in June, 2019 in India, the US, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia.


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