REVIEW: Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Directed by: Andreas Johnsen
Starring: Ai Weiwei, Andreas Johnsen
Run Time: 86 mins
Certificate: N/A

Following a period of 81 days in solitary detention, Ai Weiwei was released on bail and finally allowed to go back to his home in Beijing. Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case picks up where Alison Klayman’s 2012 documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry finished and the first scene shows the ordinarily outspoken figure shirking the opportunity to talk to the press, before telling everyone to simply “live your life.” The film, created by Danish director Andreas Johnsen, holds a looking glass over the world of Weiwei as the dishevelled revolutionary regains his spirit and continues his fight against a system seemingly hell-bent on silencing one of its greatest dissidents, whilst juggling the troubles of family life and searching for a new outlet for his once again unbridled creativity.

The key details preceding the film are filled in quickly via stock news footage, providing sufficient background information to those unaffiliated with Weiwei’s struggles with the seemingly infinitely expandable arm of the Chinese law, before Johnsen’s more observational style of film making carries the viewers the rest of the way through Weiwei’s year-long period of house arrest.

The film is beautifully candid and the access Johnsen was afforded allows the audience to really understand the pressure on Weiwei, as he tries to re-establish himself as a conceptual artist whilst continuing to bear his influence on the injustices he sees within his own country.

There is something truly inspirational about Ai Weiwei and watching the fire in his belly reignite

Weiwei blossoms wonderfully before the camera and, as the film progresses, he noticeably grows in confidence and stature. The crushed and broken soul that left prison returns to being the political powerhouse and symbol of hope he always was and, in a quiet moment of clarity during an interview, he reveals a newly lit spark by stating that “if I don’t show my voice, if I don’t act as I always believe, then I’m dead already.”

There is something truly inspirational about Ai Weiwei and watching the fire in his belly reignite provides the film with added impetus, excitement and, eventually, humour as he begins to mock the frailties of the antiquated system attempting to hold him back. A perpetually profound man with a unique way of thinking, fighting against the hypocrisy of the Chinese government makes for a thrilling story and it’s an underdog tale that everyone can get behind, with plenty of funny, tender and shocking moments thrown in to add extra corkscrews to the rollercoaster ride that is the life of Ai Weiwei.

However, perhaps more poignantly, it paints a clear image of the issues that modern Chinese citizens face and draws focus to the underhand tactics used by those desperate to silence anyone who dares criticize in a film that cries out for political reform louder than most.

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