No, I have NOT stated my preference is for movies with likeable characters with "redeeming qualities" (I also mentioned "stupid", btw)...I simply used these as examples of why the characters in this movie are boring and annoying and any "struggles" they might have are overshadowed by their coldheartedness and their stupidity. There is nothing to get you involved in the story and at the end you wonder why you wasted your time watching a movie full of uninteresting characters.
I'm curious where the "many viewers who are easily capable of identifying with the main character and her struggles" are? First of all, it doesn't seem like "many viewers" have seen this movie at all. Second, like I said, Zhang Yimou has done far better work. Have you even seen any of his other movies?
So, yes, my criticism about the film IS valid...if you can't identify with or even like any of the characters, who cares what their struggles are? The characters in this film were uninteresting and unlikable on a multitude of levels.
"if you can't identify with or even like any of the characters"
why cant you identify with the characters?
robi - Out of curiosity, what Zhang Yimou films are you considering his best work?
1. I can't identify with characters that you are meant to sympathize with (to whatever degree) yet their actions are so reprehensible (for the most part) that you don't really care. Only the biological father is somewhat likeable.
2. My favorite Zhang Yimou films are Raise The Red Lantern, The Story of Qiu Ju, To Live, The Road Home, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers. Happy Times was good but I wasn't overly crazy about Not One Less. Ju Dou is by far my least favorite. The atrocious transfer on the DVD didn't help either, but that's another story.
I feel you are missing the point. This is tragedy of the highest order. The characters are supposed to be highly flawed. We are SUPPOSED to see their mistakes which they are blind to themselves. I certainly agree with your assessment that it is hard to like Gong Li's character as well as the mean uncle, but to dislike a movie purely based on the dislikability (is that a word?) of the characters is a value judgement (which is certainly a valid feeling for a viewer)--not a mark on the director's vision. There are plenty of movies that I feel the same as you do, but I have to seperate my dislike of the characters from saying the actual creation of the characters is flawed. Also, keep in my mind that classic tragedy is very rarely realisticly portrayed--Doctor Faustus and Oedipus Rex, anyone? It's stylized. Yes, we realize that the Faustus' hubris and deal with the devil is over played; yes, the likelihood of Oedipus Rex finding his way back to his parents is ludicrous; yes, the Ju Dou demon-child is silly along with the whininess of Gong Li's character (she sounds exactly like Hamlet or Lady Macbeth), but that's the point of tragedy. Now if you were to say the acting was extremely awkward (which is different that just being unrealistic) or you thought the story itself fell flat (citing specific reasons) than those would speak directly to the perceived inadequecies (did I spell that right?) of the film. Does that make sense? I certainly still respect your personal dislike of the film.
I can understand why people would dislike Gong Li's Ju Dou but i can also understand why her character turned out to be that way. She didn't have an easy life and she was trying to hold on to the happiness she found. I don't think it's a character of a bad person but a very flawed one. I can also understand why she wanted to run away with her lover and the child and perhaps that would have been the best solution.
Salad or Liver? What would it be?
I sympathise with all the characters except with the horrible crippled old man.
I understand Ju Dou because she was abused and had a tough life. If I had the same life she had I'd want to kill the old guy as soon as possible, in the most painful way imaginable.
I sympathise with the lover Tian Qing, because he was a genuine nice guy - he didn't intend to seduce his aunt and never wanted his uncle dead. He was the nicest person in the whole film, in my opinion. Though he did slap Ju Dou once, he realised his mistake and never did it again.
I even sympathise with the little boy - it must be horrible growing up so confused over the fact that your mum seems to be sleeping around with your uncle (whom you mistakenly think is abusing her) while your father lies upstairs paralysed.
The real bad guy was the cruel master who abused his wife, demeaned his nephew and manipulated his stepson to hate his wife and nephew.
Oh, and I think the film is a very good film. Although it hasn't got good camera quality as Raise the Red Lantern, it is a great film in its own right and has some beautiful camera angles, capturing the dusty warehouse and the poverty on the streets.