Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original Title: Nan fang che zhan de ju hui
China/France, 2019. Arte France Cinema, Green Ray Films, He Li Chen Guang International Culture Media Co., Maisong Entertainment Investment, Memento Films, Omnijoi Media Corporation, Tencent Pictures. Screenplay by Yi’nan Diao. Cinematography by Jingsong Dong. Produced by Li Li, Yang Shen. Music by Bee Six. Production Design by Qiang Liu. Costume Design by Hua Li. Film Editing by Jinlei Kong, Matthieu Laclau. Cannes Film Festival 2019. Toronto International Film Festival 2019.
This stylish gangster thriller has a rather obscure plot but gets by on its aesthetic pleasures and a cast of mysterious and glamorous characters. A low-level mob boss becomes a major criminal when he clears his escape with a stolen motorcycle by shooting a man in his way, and the victim turns out to be a police officer. Now on the lam, he arranges to meet with his wife at a train station but a stranger shows up instead, telling him that she is connected with his criminal colleagues and is there to help him. He, in return, finds himself drawn to this stranger, who is a “bathing beauty” who works at the Wild Goose Lake, a resort town where young women ply their trade for amorous tourists. His decision to run away eventually turns to him asking her help to make sure that the reward being offered by the police for his capture goes to both her and his wife no matter what happens to him. The story is told out of sequence but, while sometimes confusing, is never frustrating, there’s a confident sense of cool coming from behind the camera that encourages you to go with the film’s emotional flow even when it isn’t working for you intellectually. The images, from neon-lit hotel rooms to the rainy, drab streets of Wuhan punctuated by electronic lights, draw you into a lull that is broken by the film’s occasional bursts of gory violence.