Cactus is a short film about an elderly couple, Qingxiong is the main character who is unable to communicate fully and bound to a wheelchair. His wife, Simei, has now become his full-time carer and looks after his every need. The film shows the life of Qingxiong, as he comes to terms with his own mind and decides that he no longer wants to be a part of this world and is ready to move on. However, this dark ending is left to his wife, she must be the one to end his life as he is no longer capable and strong enough to do so. Cactus is a terribly sad and moving story of the relationship between husband and wife and their final goodbyes to one another.
This film begins by exposing the audience to the couple’s relationship and their day to day activities as well as highlighting the amount of care Simei must provide her husband on a daily basis. There did not seem to be any feelings of resentment or burden hovering over their relationship, instead, what is shown is something far more powerful which is the love and bond the pair share. It is clear from the start that Qingxiong is weak and tired, his spirit seemed to have already departed from his body and mentally he was prepared to take the next steps and be at peace. His wife on the other hand was quiet and reluctant to go through with the act. It was hard to watch this short in places without welling up. I suppose the phrase cruel to be kind was the prominent theme which can be taken away from this film. Although an incredibly hard and life changing decision to take your husbands life away, ultimately, he will be free from pain but leaving his one true love behind, his wife.
The build-up within this short film is very slow, it was almost difficult to see where the story was going in places. There is minimal dialogue between the couple the audience just see Simei caring for her husband, except this is the day he chooses to end his life. However, the slow build-up is almost necessary considering the context of the film. The audience are savouring every action and every word spoken, much like Simei is doing, as she knows that this will be the last day she will ever feel her husbands touch again or hear his voice. The audience are a part of these final moments with her which makes for an impactful yet melancholic watch.
Cactus is for those that fancy a good cry or for those that want a film that really tugs at their heart strings. Not every film demands a happy ending, sometimes its good to depict reality at its rawest in order to highlight those darker moments in life which many people must face. Cactus shows the audience an up close and personal look at the struggles people can incur daily. This film takes the form of a life lesson, stressing to the audience that we must not take life for granted something which many of us are guilty of. Cactus advocates the importance of being loved and to give love, a key message to live each day by.