Guest Reviewer: Ethan Jacoby
I loved the quirky, surreal tone of this glossy satirical commentary on contemporary China. But never having been to China and not deeply versed in its interior cultural struggles, I turned to my nephew for a more knowledgeable review. Ethan lived in China for four years, working for western countries looking to do business there. His reaction to the film is less enthusiastic than mine, but he seemed to enjoy it nonetheless. Here’s his review:
In 2013 around 16,000 dead pigs were found floating in Shanghai’s Huangpu River. And this is what the film is referencing. But Cathy Yan’s Chinese Hollywood drama-dy departs somewhat from the accepted facts of the dead pig scandal, using it more as a sidebar to her larger themes. Yan’s focus is China during the boom of the mid 2000s: shady Investment schemes, rural offspring supporting their family through in work in big cities, the clash of the old guard vs. planned development, class tensions, and Expat ‘faces’ of Chinese State-run businesses with Global Ambition. Similar to the recent film about India, “White Tiger” (reviewed in an earlier post), Yan’s portrayal of class struggle leaves no room for ambiguity as to where her sympathies lie. “Dirty Pigs” in the end felt a lot like shopping at a Shanghai Street Market – a lot of noise, a lot of fighting and hustling, some ugly some hilarious.