They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. The reality about relationships is distance has a way of creating space between people. This gulf between lovers is explored in Yalan Hu’s short film A Separation. It’s 1990, and Huixian’s (Michelle Sun) plane just landed in Florida after a four-year separation from her husband, Qin Lang (Zhen Yao), who is in the state pursuing his Ph.D. while teaching classes.
“…Huixian’s plane just landed in Florida after a four-year separation from her husband…”
For her, everything about Florida is new and exciting, but it’s all the same for him. Huixian is also excited about being with her husband and ready to rekindle the romance. Qin just seems annoyed with her enthusiasm. She wants to have fun while he’s focused on his work, aided only by his young teaching assistant, Eliza (Carlee Soeder). From the start, we know that things will probably not end well for the couple.
What Hu does so well with A Separation is to allow our minds to fill in all the gaps about what might have happened during the four-year separation. The writer/director only shows the slow deterioration of this marriage onscreen. Also, without the aid of any dialogue whatsoever, we know exactly what’s going on inside the minds of both Huixian and Qin and their individual journeys to how they got here. There’s great power in the idea of “Show. Don’t tell,” and A Separation is a great example of it for both movie buffs and filmmakers alike.
"…we know exactly what’s going on inside the minds of both Huixian and Qin."