One Child Nation
Need a historical gut punch and a summons to your new career as a human rights activist? One Child Nation may be your film.
In their frequently harrowing look at China’s one child policy, documentarians Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang receive staggering access to mind-boggling propaganda videos as well as archival photos of the peer-pressuring slogans spray-painted on public walls.
Returning to her homeland following the birth of her son, Wang elevates the material’s intrigue with her personal ties to this painful history and insights from family and friends. While this connection can’t help but skew the film’s approach, she admirably employs a mix of interviews with citizens who opposed and supported the policy, representing the spectrum of perspectives that still exist under the country’s current looser procreation laws.
Though a consistently well-made documentary, One Child Nation distances itself from peers through stomach-churning recollections of aborting fetuses, murdering newborns, or witnessing illegal babies suffering in public view — all of which are bound to stick with viewers long after the end credits.
In its thorough examination of the past, the film is informative and inspirational, but as an unspoken rallying cry for reproductive rights in the U.S., it’s close to masterful.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Amazon Studios)