Four year old Qiang has been dropped off at a boarding school because no one can care for him. While most films show boarding schools with copious amounts of children to be “Oliver Twist” like hell holes, this one’s fairly nice. The teachers, well most of them, are supportive and strive to teach the children how to fit into society. Yet Qiang is a little rebel. He won’t pee with the rest of the class, or poop for that matter. Every morning the kids are trotted into a room with a long trough and are encouraged to develop good bowel habits. Qiang gets a serious case of stage fright.
Zhang Yuan’s film is weird to say the least. While the kids, especially Qiang are adorable, it seems like every scene features pooping, peeing and hand washing. Either that or the kids are in various forms of undress. But when scenes not involving potty time happen, there’s a nice aesthetic to the film. Yuan really captures the youthful innocence of these children well.
The films title refers to rewards the children are given for following directions or being good. Qiang can’t seem to get a little red flower though. At first he strives for the reward but eventually decides to follow his own path, even if it gets him in trouble and allows him no little red flowers. It’s impressive that the film really develops the character of a four year old and the actor who plays Qiang, Dong Bowen, is really good. Yet, as I mentioned, this is an odd little movie. I could’ve done with less pee pee and far less nakedness, but overall the film has a fairy tale feel to it and it’s sort of fun.