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[whitespace] 'Quitting'
Photograph by Zhou Yue

Spinning his wheels: Jia Hongsheng plays himself in 'Quitting'.

Acting Up

'Quitting' corners the market on reality

By Todd Inoue

IF VH1'S Behind the Music is the current window into celebrity burnout and recovery, Leif Garrett and Poison have nothing on Jib Hongsheng. In Quitting, Hongsheng's real-life trials are re-enacted using the actual people that surrounded him during that tumultuous period.

Jia Hongsheng was a Chinese movie star in the '80s who played likable thugs in several B-movies. The actor suffered from emotional problems and his experimentation with drugs and alcohol further fermented his already isolated, depressed rock & roll lifestyle. The parents moved in with their son, who was sharing an apartment with his sister. All efforts to help Hongsheng--including a attempt by the father (Jia Fengsen) to blend into his son's dressing and music habits--fail. Hongsheng's continued drug dependence and parental abuse lead to the young actor's eventual admittance into a mental institution.

Quitting follows Hongsheng's self-destructive path using many different perspectives. First-person interviews with Hongsheng's family and friends are mixed in with the traditional narrative. Somewhere near halfway, the camera pulls a trick that confounds the viewer even more. Is this a film or a dramatic reading?

Both. Quitting is a dramatic film. It rides shotgun down Hongsheng's road to the dark side. The principal people in his life--mom, dad, sister, best friend, even doctors and mental institution patients--pack an emotional wallop that stays long afterward. It can be sad to watch the family reopen old wounds but it also is quite moving and profound. Ultimately, the film is an intriguing story about family and forgiveness. If hindsight is 20/20, then Quitting is worth a second look.


Quitting (Unrated, 112 min.) a Zhang Yang film, opens Friday at the Camera Three.


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From the September 19-25, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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