杜拉拉升职记 Go Lala go!
(Where exactly is she going?)Lala, a recent graduate, sends out her resume sitting in her over-sized, over-decorated apartment and then timidly hunts down an office in Beijing's financial district for an interview with her somehow naive ponytail and white nurse shoes. She gets the job, and starts bottom rung in an indistinct foreign run company, scraping by using her charm, food rationing skills and perceived business savvy to slowly climb the ranks, eventually having a relationship with her higher up, procuring the requisite car and apartment and traveling to a cardboard version of Thailand for company vacations along with whatever else you're supposed to do with money in contemporary China, including becoming jaded with it.
Go Lala go! is directed by the very popular Xu Jinglei (徐静蕾), who also stars in the role at Lala. To say this is a vanity project would be to state the obvious, and critizing it as such is also meaningless. It features every possible A list celebrity from the Chinese speaking world as well as two zombified American bosses, played by Caucasian actors whose only purpose is to speak Mandarin. (something Chinese absolutely fetishize.) Characters operate in a sanitized, absolutely false version of Beijing, set entirely amongst plastic skyscrapers and shiny malls, offensive considering the real poverty and distinctive local culture so noticeable in this city. (Regardless, movies are about escapism and so it does this well.) It's safe to say the film has absolutely nothing new to say about anything, but the film itself isn't important; it's the tone and persevered message.
There is not a single film that more encapsulates the attitudes of Beijing's new middle class or anyone wishing to join their ranks more completely than this movie. "Rags to riches" this certainly is. It illustrates the drive and desire to "make it" in a way that we no longer portray with a straight face in Western movies, and equates material/financial stability with a strong desire to achieve, but also a kind of moral superiority. The fact that this film spawned counterfeit "Lala" movies is the proverbial cherry on top, making it a pitch perfect critique of China's mindless, "wild west," uncreative, unchecked growth.
Swirling martial arts epics have as much to do with China today as Merchant Ivory films have to do with contemporary England. Go Lala go! is about as ugly and accurate as possible.