Complete A-Z list



Stars: Zhu Zhu, Amy Irving, Harmony Te, Helen Slater, George Christopher, Yi Liu, Yanan Li, Joe Holt, Robyn Payne

Director: Ann Hu

A handkerchief or two by your side would be a good idea when watching this gentle and touching account of a Chinese child (Te) afflicted with severe dyslexia.

Kicked out of school because she is unable to comprehend reading and writing, Meimei has, nonetheless, in one particular lesson, been able to pick out the number of 'W's in an English story (unlike her classmates) because the letters look like grasshoppers.

Although aces at shapes and drawing pictures on a computer, Meimei is passed from school to school - scarcely believable that one head teacher does not know what dyslexia is - until her mother Chan Lan (Zhu), a cleaner at her first school and unaware that her husband (Liu) knows she has the same condition) determines to take Meimei to America, sympathetic teacher Tom (Christopher) having put her in touch with reclusive writer Kate McLellan (Irving) who, grieving the loss of her son, welcomes the pair.

However, she's shocked to find that Chan knows no English, although Meimei is learning fast. And so a long slog to find a suitable place for Meimei begins, with her mother working as a sweatshop seamstress, pot cleaner and other menial jobs to pay for evaluation fees.

The film may be too low-key for some tastes, but the performances are immaculate, with Zhu and He immensely sympathetic, and the screenplay, based on its Chinese-American director's own experiences, offers a valuable window of hope for similar sufferers. Shame that it's taken three years to get here, and is showing in so few cinemas, but hopefully a dvd release beckons.

David Quinlan

USA/China 2019. UK Distributor: Miracle Communications. Technicolor.
86 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Oct 2022