Li Shuangshuang

dir. Lu Ren

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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In this delightful comedy, a cheerful farmer's wife (post-Revolution superstar Zhang Ruifang) in a village commune puts her marriage in jeopardy when she takes her cadre spirit a little too far.

The screening of Li Shuangshuang, scheduled to screen on June 16, has moved due to the need to add soft-titling. The film will now screen on July 20 at 1:00pm. We apologize for any inconvenience.


A brief relaxation of strict socialist realism guidelines in the 1960s saw the emergence of several wonderful and now rarely seen comedies, the most popular of which was the deft and enormously charming Li Shuangshuang. The title character ("Seventeen Years" superstar Zhang Ruifang) is a model member of a village commune who cheerily denounces the laziness and minor corruption of the village men, especially her kind but not overly bright husband. As she spurs on the other village women to do the same, she and her husband become estranged and unhappy. All ends well, of course, as the couple triumphantly reunite in the name of Party and Nation, but beneath the breeziness one can feel greater metaphors at work, and harbingers of things to come: is Li Shuangshuang perhaps a stand-in for an overly demanding Party, and her husband the exhausted people of China? (For Kevin B. Lee, "Li Shuangshuang's uncompromising stance toward her community foretold the kind of behaviour that would explode full-scale during the sweeping, destructive purification campaigns of the Cultural Revolution just a few years later.")