Xiao Bo (Yu Bo) lives in a world where the lines defining men from women are constantly dissolving and disappearing. His father Cui Zi'en has now become a woman and wants to be called mom. At his father's deathbed, he fulfills his dying wish to have oral sex with him. Xiao Bo's boyfriend "Nana" has also had a sex change and Xiao Bo no longer finds her attractive as a woman. What we see happening is a sexual chain reaction that messes up traditional Chinese roles that govern male and female, parent and child. This is certainly vanguard cinema. "Enter the Clowns" lets you know that everything you think you know about sexual identity and gender orientation is wrong. Director Cui is China's first gay filmmaker but he will certainly claim his place among the other big names of the new queer cinema. He is a filmmaker, a novelist and a queer activist and this movie will shock you. It is certainly inspired by Fassbinder and Warhol but is totally Chinese. Cui Zi'en teaches at the Beijing Film Academy and here he brings us the new queer Chinese cinema with a movie that says everything you know about sexual identity and gender orientation is wrong. From the very beginning, in which the hunky Xiao Bo has oral sex with his dying mother (or is it his father?), the movie charms and makes us think. The characters are wonderful. Xiao Bo lives with Nana (who was once male), but totally fails to satisfy her. Nana flirts with lots of men, looking for someone better, but is afraid that there isn't a man in Beijing for her. Dongdong is high school boy has a mother who goes through a female-to-male sex change and this complicates her relationship with Dongdong's stepfather, who still loves her (him) enough to stop him from looking for a new girlfriend. This was first a novel by Cui and that is easy to see in the way the characters are constructed but what Cui really does is give us queer China and gender politics like we have never had. The film was shot in five days and contains assorted straight, gay and in-between people in Beijing who act out a series of loosely linked vignettes taken from Cui's own banned novel. Xiao Bo lets his dying mother (or is that his father?) give him oral sex, a boy fends off sexual advances from a foreign man who offers him a room, Nana (evidently inspired by a Fassbinder film) changes gender in a vain attempt to please the guy who didn't like her as a boy and so on. The ending is elegiac n with Xiao Bo, naked, reading aloud a religious-erotic sci-fi scene from Cui's book. But its queering of everyday life in Beijing is anything but literary, and this film sharpens the perversity. It is playful, provoking and sometimes very funny and it shows us that there is Chinese queer Cinema.The more "Enter the Clowns" piles on its perversities, the more they come to seem commonplace. By going so far over the top, Cui has gotten rid of any expectations about sexual identity and the film liberates., Most of the characters are hung up about their struggles to be good so that what initially seems a story that we all know about the pitfalls of denying one's true nature, it ends up as a questioning story that is much more inquisitive than cautionary.
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