I get the sneaking sense that Yaxing Lin’s heartbreaking tale, Playground, would not play in America… then again, maybe it would. There’s a level of bravery to tell a story that pushes the limits. The film tells the story of six-year-old Jiajia (Ziqi Zhao), whose impoverished mother, Qun Lin (Zueqing Cai), is forced to leave home for days to find work.
On this occasion, Jiajia followed her mother to her job, working as a dancer and companion at an adult nightclub. Fearful that she’d lose her job, Qun Lin lets Jiajia hang out in the club. Qun Lin witnesses the reactions of the club’s clients to how they look at and talk about Jiajia. In turn, Jiajia sees the spectrum of abuse her mother experiences on a nightly basis.
“…Jiajia followed her mother to her job, working as a dancer and companion at an adult nightclub.”
Setting the subject matter aside, writer/director Lin nails the tone between the dark and seedy club with the bright tones of Jiajia’s dreams. Also, a big shout out to director of photography Jiang Du. Du captures the environment beautifully and takes great care in seeing her mother’s world from a child’s perspective, looking up at everything.
Storywise, Lin captures the conflict of someone who must resort to this line of work to make a living. It’s countered with the messages we give to our children in the process. I’ve seen enough short films to see where Playground is taking us, but being able to see this world from a child’s perspective is the fresh take we need.
"…being able to see this world from a child's perspective is the fresh take we need..."