Young And Restless In China

Press Reaction

USA Today

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"This absorbing documentary follows nine young Chinese over four years, giving viewers a rare perspective from inside what one budding business owner featured in the film calls 'the land of opportunity.' ..."

Emma Brown, The Boston Globe

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"Despite its soap-opera-inspired name, 'Young & Restless in China' ... is a quiet and intimate look at the struggle among members of the under-40 set to balance competing commitments to their jobs, their families, and themselves.

"... [P]roducer Sue Williams determinedly avoids drawing conclusions about the intersections between her subjects' lives and China's changing political and economic landscape."

Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail (Canada)

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"... [T]he varied stories of varied lives take hold and reveal much of China along the way ... [including] "the bizarre contradictions of a society in which arranged marriages and slavery can co-exist with Internet scams, Mandarin- language hip hop and luxury hotels."

Tom Dorsey, Louisville Courier-Journal

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" The program is like reading the personal diaries of the 10 [sic] young people that Frontline has followed in the past few years. ...

"... There is so much to digest in this two-hour journey … problems are enormous, even mind-boggling, but so are the opportunities."

The Detroit Free Press

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"... This well-crafted film shows a country rippling with energy and change."

Richard Deitsch,

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"… a remarkable look at the furious changes that are shaping the world's most populous nation. ... If you are interested in the upcoming Beijing Games, the program is not to be missed."

Carina Chocano The Los Angeles Times

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"... 'Young and Restless in China' is a stunning, sweeping look at a country amid a frenzied thoroughly compromised process of self-reinvention, but even a little historical context would have gone a long way in grounding the narrative journey of its subjects. Then again, utterly unrecognizable, this brave new China hardly seems grounded."

Ronnie Schieb, Variety

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"... pic successfully demonstrates the stages of social development through the private dramas of its individual subjects. Despite its hokey title, docu proves an engaging eye-opener. ..."

Michael Joshua Rowin, Reverse Shot

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"'Young & Restless in China' displays remarkable compassion toward its subjects, all of whom feel comfortable enough in front of the camera to express their hopes, concerns, and resentments. ...

"... [T]here's not a lot of action in "Young & Restless" ... but with [Williams'] sights set on a twenty-year sociological study about a country with as many contradictions as people, [there] doesn't have to be."

Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide

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"... a real-life soap opera you can feel sophisticated for watching -- after all, it's really about globalization, even if broken hearts and family dysfunction occupy center stage. ..."

"... The film's underlying message couldn't be more basic -- it is a small world after all, and young Chinese have the same concerns, fears and problems as young Americans. ..."

Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

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"For an American viewer it's interesting at first because of the 'just like us' factor … But soon it becomes clear that everything about them is just like us. …"

"... Almost everything experienced by the nine [characters] ... is garden-variety living and learning. Ms. Williams makes an effort to create some old-ways-versus-modernism tension ... but it seems perfunctory. ..."

Ted Cox, Chicago Daily Herald

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"'Young & Restless in China' ... is scattershot by definition. ...

"[The characters in the film] don't seem to have much in common with each other, but they seem to share much with young adults here. ... That's how this 'Frontline' works best, comparing the quickly changing Chinese culture to ... our quickly changing Western culture."

"I'm not sure if this 'Frontline' offers any insights about China on the verge of the Olympics, except to say the obvious: that the Chinese people are very much like people here or anywhere, and we're all dealing with uncertain times rife with change. Who can say where things go from here?"

Kate Merkel-Hess, The China Beatt

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"... The documentary is primarily interested in illustrating the contemporary lives of young Chinese, and so there is very little historical context provided for the economic policies (or the social changes) that drive their choices. ...

"The two-hour documentary complicates what has become a typical portrayal... of young China as greedy and moraly bankrupt ...[and illustrates] the tensions between professional and personal success..."

Jennifer Merin,

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"... 'Young & Restless' ... falls short of establishing itself as the film of record about China's current social, political and economic changes. Not enough background, not enough of a time span."

Aaron Hillis, The Village Voice

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"As China makes the headlines daily with each new threat of an Olympic boycott, doc filmmaker Sue Williams ... might believe that her four-year survey of Chinese Gen-Xers is being released at an opportune time -- but, if anything, the coincidence will only remind the news literate that her story places China's neglect for human rights in the background. ...

"... Williams's multi-thread portrait is fascinating only as a scattershot, time-capsule sampling of those whose lives were defined by the Tiananmen Square protests. ..."

Tony Perry, The Los Angeles Times

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"... At two hours, the effort seems overly long. By jumping from one person to another, focus is lost. Less would definitely have been more. ...

"Still, for viewers who bring an interest in the topic and enough patience to sit through the slow-moving parts, the documentary will deliver some interesting goods, including a close-up look at some of the social problems confronting the leaders in Beijing as the country rushes into the future. ..."

home . introduction . watch online . nine stories . where's china headed? . "I wanted music to play a big part in the film" .  listen to the music . join the discussion . teacher's guide . live chat with producer sue williams . site map . dvd + transcript . press reaction . credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted june 17, 2008

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