Synopsis by Mark Deming
A widowed father and his unhappy son try to find common ground in this controversial comedy-drama from China. Ma Linsheng (Feng Xiaogang) is a low-level government functionary who leads a worker's committee. Ma Linsheng doesn't care for his job, and ever since the death of his wife two years ago, he's been moody and out of sorts, trying to remain professional on the job while his frustrations rise to the surface during evenings shared with his teenage son Ma Che (Hu Xiaopei). While Ma Linsheng loves his son, he's not sure what to do for him, and wavers between trying to reach out to Ma Che and bawling him out. The tension isn't helping Ma Che, either at home or at school; hoping to make his father feel better (and give himself a bit more breathing room in the process), Ma Che tries to fix Ma Linsheng up with Qi Huaiyuan (Xu Fan), the mother of one of his friends, Tie Jun (Ye Qing). Baba was shot in 1995, but has yet to be released in China due to director Wang Shuo's battles with the Beijing Film Bureau, which objected to the film's disrespectful attitude toward government authority and its unflattering portrait of fatherhood.