An Elephant Sitting Still (Da xiang xi di er zuo)

Critics Consensus

A remarkable debut that sadly serves as its creator's epitaph, An Elephant Sitting Still offers an uncompromisingly grim yet poignant portrait of life in modern China.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 46

73%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 89
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Movie Info

Under the gloomy sky of a small town in northern China, different protagonists' lives are intertwined in this furious tale of nihilistic rage. While protecting his friend from a dangerous school bully, 16-year-old WEI Bu pushes the tormentor down a staircase. WEI escapes the scene and later learns that the bully is hospitalized and gravely injured. WEI's neighbor, the 60-year-old WANG Jin, is estranged from his family and, with nothing to lose, decides to join him. Later the pair is joined by HUANG Ling, WEI's classmate. She is bedeviled by a destructive affair with a married school official. Together, this unlikely and desperate trio, decide their only hope is to flee as the bully's gangster brother, enraged parents, and vindictive school authorities embark on a cold-blooded hunt for WEI across town. As WEI threads his way through the urban wilderness, he begins to come to terms with his own lost life. In the end, he boards a long-distance bus with HUANG and WANG toward a city in Manchuria, where it is a rumored that a circus elephant is said to be sitting still, seemingly oblivious to pain and tribulations of the world at large.

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Critic Reviews for An Elephant Sitting Still (Da xiang xi di er zuo)

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (2)

  • I wanted to connect with it, but I am the monster who could not get into the four-hour tragic movie.

    Sep 23, 2019 | Full Review…
  • [Hu] has given us a triumph of bold sociopolitical critique and intimate human portraiture, and a reminder that you rarely encounter the one without the other.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…
  • This is not the feel-good film of the year. And yet, the story builds towards a climactic trip to see the mythical elephant in Manzhouli, and old Wang Jin is eager to go along for the ride.

    Mar 8, 2019 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • While circumstances are claustrophobic and stifling, Bo's movie seems to balance that with strange and surreal impulses of the heart.

    Mar 8, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • An act of solemn, disciplined and passionate protest.

    Mar 6, 2019 | Full Review…
  • [I]t's hard to become emotionally invested in someone whose impossible dream is to no longer care, and the sense of yearning that might counterbalance all the hopelessness never truly materializes.

    Mar 5, 2019 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

    Mike D'Angelo

    AV Club
    Top Critic

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