Quitting is a docu-drama and has the main star, Jia Hongsheng, playing himself. He was well-known TV-movie actor in China in the 80s and 90s who started using drugs and ended up with some pretty severe mental problems.
The film is really interesting in showing us the culture of modern-day China. The idea of TV and film stardom is certainly familiar to us here in the US but the familial culture of China still pervades. As Jia starts using more drugs and withdrawing from everyone, his sister and parents arrive from the country to live with him in Beijing. His father retires early from his job to do this. So here’s this withdrawn, young (in his twenties), druggie movie star living alone in the big city and his parents just show up and move in to figure out what to do with him. So you can try to rebel in China but mom and dad are never far away.
I recommend this film for it’s cultural highlights. It also has some innovative technique in breaking through the audience wall and revealing the sets a few times.
Jia’s favorite Western group is the Beatles and his favorite song is “Let it Be” which somehow translates to Chinese as “Take it naturally”.
In the late 80s, a new film star, Jia Hongsheng, emerged in China. Labeled ‘the thug idol,’ he gained fame playing gangsters and heroes in a series of Chinese B-movies. Jia went on to star in a stage version of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” directed by Zhang Yang and soon became the actor of choice for Chinese sixth generation filmmakers such as Wang Xiaoshuai and Lou Ye. He had his first experience with drugs on the set of “Spider Woman.” Jia’s naturally fragile mental/psychological state coupled with his experimentation with drugs gradually led him into a state of despair. He stopped acting and cut himself off entirely from all his friends and family, locking himself in his apartment. This is the story of Jia’s journey, from the cutting edge of China’s artistic movement in the early 90s, through a period of conflict with himself and his parents, to a mental institution and finally on the quest to rediscover himself and his family.