I am not sure if I have ever seen something like this. We do get to see documentaries where real life characters enact their own life. But a whole movie?, that too enacting the whole trauma a family experienced? I do not know about any others.
Jia Hongsheng, graduated from Drama school in 89 and slowly built his acting career. He had couple of good films and during the rehearsal for a movie, he took into the practise of Marijuana and gets addicted. He quits acting and ends up in the apartment of his young sister, slowly becoming a complete introvert having hallucinations, living on his sister. His father, a peasant takes premature retirement and comes to the city with his wife to take care of their son. They really go through a terrific struggle before they will have their son back as normal.
By 97 Jia is free of drugs and Mr. Yang made this movie using the same actor, his parents, sister and even the hospital staff. In fact it was during the rehearsal for Yang's movie that Jia first took drugs. What a great way to pay back for that small sin. Let me admit, I have seen so many movies which were all termed as movies for the family or family movie or about a family. But 200%, this is what a real family movie is.
Quitting is not shot in a typical movie format. Its beginning is quite different and we see that we are going to be taken through the lives of some people, as we are introduced to them. It really starts off as a movie with the arrival of his parents in Beijing. They know that their son is a drug addict and are shocked to see how he treats his own parents. But they have this brilliant will and are dedicated to suffer to any extent to get their son back to normality. So many scenes, honestly I must say, are difficult to bear. There is no vulgarity or blood shed or abuse or anything. But if one attaches any importance to family or your parents or your brothers or sisters, it is quite shocking and difficult to see how Jia treats his family. It is all the more difficult to bear the pain of his parents to go through the horrible treatment they receive from their son. But what comes through is the sheer love and dedication of a family, to suffer anything to get their son back to normality.
But, it is not all very painful and sad. Some of the scenes are genuinely simple and funny. Like how Jia's father wants to buy a music cassette of Beatles, for his son. But he doesnt have any idea about Beatles or Lennon, who Jia considers his idol or even his father. So many scenes carry a kind of fun, but at the same time carry a kind of sadness behind.
This movie does a brilliant service against drugs, I think. The whole family of Jia deserves applause and recognition for what they have done. For youngsters and parents alike, it must be an eye opener. It might be accused that it was easy as they really went through all this, but the performances have been brilliant. Especially Jia Hongsheng the actor and Jia Fengsen, the father.
This is a brilliant and touching movie, the best family movie. A must watch.
There is something though. A lot of scenes in this movie happens in the sisters apartment. And couple of times the camera zooms out, and we can see that its actually a set on a stage, each and every room designed on the stage. As and how the movie is told, this is not particularly relevant. But that was quite surprising, when it was done the first time. I am still not sure, what the director meant here. May be, just reminding us that its the same people acting out their real life once again, may be!