Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Weaving’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - April 25, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Weaving’

Director Wang Yang’s documentary Weaving investigates capitalism’s growing hold on China and the shifting family dynamics that come along with it. At 97-minutes, Weaving is a slough to get through unless you have the patience of a saint.

During the height of communist era China, the state assigned citizens housing in worker villages constructed alongside factories. Yang follows two families who must relocate when their old textile factory and worker village are scheduled for demolition.

The heads of each family spent their lives working dutifully for the state; they toiled away in textile factories until retirement age and have little to show for it. Now old, feeble, and facing eviction, they need the government’s help financing their relocation. Instead, they find themselves at a bureaucratic impasse. Asking their adult children for help isn’t any more productive. Once brought into the fold, the children’s relationships only breed conflict and animosity.

Like most people I know, Weaving’s subjects are closer to the Bluths and the Bundys than the Cleavers and Huxtables. The families openly squabble, laying years of resentment bare with little regard for the camera. China’s patriarchal system also inflames the situation. A pair of hard working sisters who struggle to keep their own families afloat has their mother tell them that the family’s savings must go to their son. After all, “daughters leave, sons always stay.” These raw, honest, and relatable family grudges stayed with me once the credits rolled. They reminded me that no matter where we’re from or what language we speak, we all have the same familial hang-ups.

Yang clearly has a lot to say: Weaving examines growing old, family conflict, generational patriarchy, and China’s shift towards capitalism. Yang wraps these intriguing themes in a visually drab, sluggishly paced film. Skip this one until it hits VOD.

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Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based freelance writer and pop culture curator. Victor currently contributes insights, criticisms, and reviews to several online publications where he has extended coverage to the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada. Victor has a soft spot in his heart for Tim Burton movies and his two poorly behaved beagles (but not in that order).