Be2Can / Movies / Return to dust
Return to dust
The humble, unassuming Ma and timid Cao have been cast off by their families and forced into an arranged marriage. To survive, they have to come together and build a home for themselves.
Ma and Guiying lead lives that are similarly sheltered and difficult. He is a reticent farmer, the last of his family to remain unmarried; she is disabled and infertile, and long past what is considered to be marrying age in rural China. Their arranged marriage, uniting two people who are accustomed to isolation and humiliation, would appear to force them into a relationship that will make life worse for both of them. But instead, they seize the opportunity to rise above themselves and discover their shared destiny. They learn how to become close companions, how to speak up, how to care for each other and even how to smile. All this in spite of the hard work required of them by their quintessential bond with the land and the trials that await them on their common path. Against a backdrop of topics such as the exploitation of farm workers, forced urbanisation, the uprooting of traditions and poverty, Li Ruijun – who returns to his birthplace of Gaotai, in the northern province of Gansu – prioritises the characters’ worldview, with its inherent naivety and fragility, through an act of trust and love that infuses the film with subtle tenderness and profound humanity.
Watch online on Edisonline

Li Ruijun

Born in Gansu Province, China in 1983, he began studying painting and music at the age of 14. In 2003, he graduated from the Management Institute of the China National Ministry of Radio, Film and Television. His films have been selected for festivals including Venice, Cannes and Tokyo. River Road screened in the Generation section of the Berlinale in 2015.

Directed by
Li Ruijun
Written by
Li Ruijun
Edited by
Li Ruijun
Weihua Wang
Sound by
Changrui Wang
Music by
Peyman Yazdanian
Renlin Wu, Hai-Qing
Original title
Yin ru chen yan
English title
Return to dust
Running time
133 min
Drama, Poetic
Age rating
Release date
06. 10. 2021
You can buy movie tickets at your favorite cinema
Watch online on Edisonline


Media reception

Hollywood Reporter
"An unhurried but hypnotic portrait of two discards thrown together to scratch out a life as they weather the seasons."
“Return to Dust” is an absorbing, beautifully framed drama that makes a virtue — possibly too much a virtue — of simplicity.
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