Dead Pigs review – winding tale of life in cash-crazed Shanghai

Cathy Yan’s sprawling drama uses a real-life discovery of 16,000 porcine corpses to pick away at Chinese commercialism

A breezily westernised style of Chinese movie is on offer in this 2018 debut feature from Chinese-American film-maker Cathy Yan, who two years later went to Hollywood to direct Birds of Prey, starring Margot Robbie. Dead Pigs is an ensemble dramedy set in Shanghai that satirises – in a distinctly lenient way – the commercialism eating away at China’s heart. It is inspired by a real-life incident in which thousands of dead pigs were found in the city’s Huangpu river, dumped by poverty-stricken farmers who couldn’t pay the disposal fees; the pig symbolism reminded me a tiny bit of Alan Bennett’s A Private Function.

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