‘Temporary Historical past of a Household’ Evaluate — We Might Have One other ‘Saltburn’

The Massive Image

  • The rating and cinematography in Temporary Historical past of a Household create a singular environment.
  • Xilun Solar’s enigmatic efficiency retains audiences guessing till the tip.
  • The movie’s ambiguity within the finale lacks ample build-up and assist, doubtlessly stemming from efforts to cater to worldwide audiences.

In author and director Jianjie Lin‘s characteristic debut, we’re welcomed right into a middle-class household’s dwelling by means of the eyes of an outsider after an incident at college brings two college students collectively. Little question Temporary Historical past of a Household will include many Saltburn comparisons because the movie facilities across the concept of an intruder slowly embedding himself right into a household, however that is likely to be each giving Temporary Historical past of a Household an excessive amount of credit score and never sufficient. Subdued and minimal, Lin’s eye focuses on the household in query fairly than the newcomer and offers us an intimate have a look at this contemporary Chinese language household.

Temporary Historical past of a Household

In submit one-child coverage China, a middle-class household takes of their solely son’s mysterious new buddy. This triggers buried household tensions as secrets and techniques and emotions floor, testing the bonds and expectations holding the household collectively.

Launch Date
January 19, 2024

Jianjie Lin

Ke-Yu Guo , Muran Lin , Xilun Solar , Feng Zu

99 minutes

Major Style

Jianjie Lin

What Is ‘Temporary Historical past of a Household’ About?

When Yan Shuo (Xilun Solar) is hit with a basketball at college and injured, his classmate Tu Wei (Muran Lin) rapidly is available in to apologize to him. As a method of constructing up for his mistake, Wei invitations Shuo again to his home to play video video games and hang around for a bit. When Wei’s dad and mom come dwelling, he’s rapidly invited to dinner. At dinner, the Tu household learns that Shuo’s dwelling life will not be as comfy as theirs. The Tus are clearly higher center class, with a snug dwelling and luxuries that denote their affluence. Shuo reveals that his father is a single mum or dad after his mom died, and later we study that he’s abusive as effectively.

As Shuo comes round extra typically, inspired by Wei who realizes that with Shuo round, his dad and mom will not hassle him, it turns into clear that Shuo is attempting to fold himself into the household. He turns into shut with Wei’s mom (Ke-Yu Guo) by cooking along with her or asking her easy questions on herself. He features Wei’s father’s (Feng Zu) belief by exhibiting curiosity in classical music and providing his perception on it. Because the story unfolds, and we study extra concerning the Tus, particularly about how Wei’s dad and mom handled the one-child coverage in China, it turns into clear how Shuo could make his method into the household.

Ultimately, he turns into part of the household, residing of their dwelling and happening household holidays. Suspense builds round Shuo’s attachment to the Tus, however because the movie edges towards the tip of its 99-minute runtime, not every part is because it appears. What as soon as appeared like a assure quickly melts away within the aftermath of a surprising flip of occasions.

‘Temporary Historical past of a Household’ Masterfully Builds Pressure

In contrast to another movies within the “household infiltration” style, Shuo’s motives are unclear to us. We all know the place the Tu household stands. Wei’s mom remains to be mourning the loss of a kid and sees potential within the arrival of Shuo, a soft-spoken boy who will not be solely well mannered however considerate. Wei’s father sees in Shuo an clever younger man, one who seems as much as him in a method his son by no means will. Whereas he initially sees Shuo as a welcome distraction for his dad and mom, Wei quickly considers his classmate an annoyance and even a rival at occasions.

This battle between the boys simmers quietly within the background as Jianjie Lin artfully provides suspense to the story. Typically Lin encloses a scene in a round body, mimicking the microscopic lens that Shuo examines the household from and we get the sense that this welcoming household is getting into the jaws of a lure. Xilun Solar presents little in his masked expressions, however there’s a wealth of emotion effervescent beneath the floor as Shuo. Equally, Muran Lin, Ke-Yu Guo, and Feng Zu conflict as a household that’s barely holding it collectively. Shuo’s arrival adjustments every part, however when they’re alone, the seams start to point out as expectations are piled on Wei’s shoulders or as we watch the dad and mom attempt to navigate an sad marriage.

‘Temporary Historical past of a Household’ Lacks a Nucleus to Maintain Collectively

However a movie is greater than only the start and center. How a narrative ends defines how we consider it, and there’s a murkiness to Temporary Historical past of a Household that does not precisely really feel like genius. Whereas Jianjie Lin could be applauded for not taking the apparent route in relation to Shuo’s story, it additionally looks as if he does not know the place precisely he desires to go.

The movie lacks a powerful middle to carry it collectively. Because the story unfolds and a constructing thriller varieties, Lin rejects giving us a snug ending, as a substitute specializing in the ambiguous after his climax. It is not utterly off-kilter as a result of, ultimately, we see precisely the place the Tu household’s loyalties lie, nevertheless it leaves the story feeling considerably empty. A few of this might be attributed to the truth that Lin purposefully wrote and directed this film for a global viewers, stating in his Sundance post-film Q&A that they lower no matter felt distinctly Chinese language from the movie to make it simpler to grasp for international viewers.

I can not assist however marvel if he saved a few of these nuances in if the film would have higher stuffed within the gaps of this story. The very fact of the matter is Temporary Historical past of a Household is a really Chinese language film. It tackles concepts just like the one-child coverage and the aftermath of its dissolution. It makes not-so-subtle nods at fuerdai, a time period used for youngsters of the nouveau riche who’ve grown up in an prosperous household with out going through many challenges in life. Wei is an ideal instance of this, a baby spoiled by his dad and mom’ wealth, whereas concurrently being groomed to go overseas to review. Stripping the movie of extra particular traits that make it Chinese language looks like a disservice to the movie, and it makes me marvel what sort of story we may have gotten had Lin leaned in fairly than shied away.

Jianjie Lin’s Debut Is Imperfect however a Promising Begin

Sundance Film Festival 2024
Picture by way of Sundance 

Temporary Historical past of a Household is, on the floor, a glossy and trendy story. It’s one that’s informed artistically with a frenetic rating that thrums into your bones. Composer Toke Brorson Odin is chargeable for the looming dread and nervousness we really feel watching every scene. Oppressive at occasions, Odin’s rating matches cinematographer Jiahao Zhang‘s various types. From slo-mo motion scenes to close-ups of a dying fish, Zhang places us into the thoughts’s eye fairly than making us merely an observer. This and the movie’s robust performances strengthen Jianjie Lin’s debut, however Temporary Historical past of a Household is flawed in its execution. The final word ambiguity is likely to be sufficient for some to reward Lin’s work, however there’s merely not sufficient to chew on by the tip of the story for it to be a powerful success.

Brief History of a Family Film Poster

Temporary Historical past of a Household

Jianjie Lin’s directorial debut stumbles towards the end line after a promising begin.


  • Because of the rating and the cinematography, the movie feels glossy and complicated in its quiet method to a thriller.
  • Xilun Solar’s Shuo is the proper cipher protagonist who retains us guessing all the way in which to the tip.

  • There’s an excessive amount of ambiguity within the finale with out sufficient build-up or assist within the earlier components of the movie.
  • Jianjie Lin’s try and make the movie extra accessible to worldwide audiences robs the film of some authenticity.

Temporary Historical past of a Household had its World Premiere on the 2024 Sundance Movie Competition.

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