Review: How To Live Your Life Correctly (2018), by Xindi Lou

Qingge Gao as Ming in How To Live Your Life Correctly by Xindi Lou

Everything looks perfectly fine in Ming’s (Qingge Gao) life until a strange incident at a stage rehearsal of a patriotic play occurs, involving lots of splashed paint. On the way to a hospital she is rushed off to, Ming calls to mind her first signs of depression during puberty which she calls a “gloomy seed that fell from the sky”. It’s the thoughts about transiency that won’t leave her and the awareness the Earth will still be there when she isn’t. Asked by a psychiatrist how she feels, Ming admits she is irritated and worried she’ll die without having done anything she will be remembered for.

The hospital Ming’s in has a solution for her problems. Doubts and sorrows are spots on a happy individual’s biography, as all citizens should be embracing the bright Chinese future with undying optimism. It’s a case for tranquilizers and the run by-the-clock evening entertainment time on a giant TV set that can’t be switched off. Loud in colours and volume the screen is showing one female face playing different shiny personalities. Fabulous in her multiple roles in miniature films in film, Cassandra Liu demonstrates how an individual should be happy no matter what, most memorably in an episode of a soap opera in which “although her both parents are dead, he doesn’t love her anymore, she has cancer and she lost her leg, she can’t give up and needs to stay positive.”

The hospital stay has a life-changing effect on Ming, but not through the therapy. When she encounters her room-mate Ace (Shudan Wang), it’s love and adventure that will save them.

In How To Live Your Life Correctly Xindi Lou uses a colourful visual language to cut through four major subjects – the exposure to indoctrination in autocracies, brain-washing of average TV viewers through certain programs (state-controlled mind-steering content), the urge to excel and ‘leave the mark’ as a result of the competitive-thinking environment, and how parents can contribute to your life drama. Think of the universally uttered “you were such a great child” lines, used since the cavemen swapped the drawings for words.

Xindi Lou’s script is a wonderfully humorous take on existential crisis, and she even sets the lyrics to two original songs composed and performed by Xueran Chen – “Acid & Fuel” and “Go Home Song”. Even if you don’t speak Mandarin, you might end up humming the translated lines “The trash all looks the same”.

How to Live Your Life Correctly was competing in the Shorts Competition of the /slash film festival.

Country: US
Language: Mandarin
Running Time: 21′
Written and directed by: Xindi Lou
Producer: Sam Shafaghi
DoP: Daiyao Daniel Yan
Production Design: Angran Li
Editor: Guangwei Du
Music: Xueran Chen
Production Design: Angran Li
Art Director: Molly Moses
Story editing: Jacob Stock & G. Wilson
Costume Design: Cassidy Combs
Make-up & Hair: Shannon Pitts
Cast: Qingge Gao, Shudan Wang, Alexandre Chen, Eon Song