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The Nightingale 

Wednesday, Nov 4 2015
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Dramas from mainland China tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, and that includes Phillip Muyl's The Nightingale, a French-Chinese co-production and remake of Muyl's 2002 The Butterfly. Zhigen (Bao Tian Li) is an elderly man traveling to his childhood village for a decades-long ritual involving his pet nightingale. He usually makes the trip alone, but this time finds himself entrusted with the care of his granddaughter Renxing (Xin Yi Yang), who lives a life of luxury and iPads with Zhigen's estranged architect son (Hao Qin) and isn't all that interested in her grandfather's natural world. Will Renxing learn to appreciate things that are far older and more organic than the black mirrors she clutches? Oh, she just might, though The Nightingale isn't strictly an anti-technology screed — at the end of their journey, Zhigen promises to keep in touch over Skype — but rather a charming tale about two disparate generations traveling together and finding common ground amid some spectacular scenery. There's also some cultural subtext about China's one-child policy — which coincidentally just ended — but the movie hinges on the chemistry between Bao Tian Li and Xin Yi Yang. In the long run, The Nightingale doesn't aspire to be much more than a heartwarming  road movie through rural China, and at that, it succeeds admirably.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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