Thursday, October 14, 2010

London Film Fest 2010 Day 2 - CHONGQING BLUES

Xiaoshuai Wang's CHONGQUING BLUES is a real disappointment. A two-hour, crawling-paced, narratively dull dirge. A teenage boy goes to a shopping mall, is dumped by his girlfriend, and in a fit of pique creates Facebook, sorry, takes a shopper hostage, stabs a security guard, and is eventually killed by the cops. His estranged father, absent for a decade, returns to town. Naturally, his ex-wife and his son's friends aren't keen to talk to the man who vanished for a decade, and the first hour of the movie sees the father stonewalled. In the second hour, we piece together the basic narrative but it's fairly dull and inconsequential.

So, ordinarily, I'd say that this movie is one to avoid. However, I was interested in it, but from an oblique angle. I work in an industry - and we all live in a world - where China - her money, her goods, her political intentions - are becoming more and more important. And the directorial style of this film is to let a camera meander through the streets of one of China's major cities - the backstreets, crumbling old buildings, seedy flats, tiny workshops and sweatshops. That - the social document - is fascinating. In addition, I really appreciated a look at how rapid economic growth and the penetration of Western media has changed the relationship between the generations. One of the major themes of the movie is that the older generation - hard-working, disciplined, austere - cannot communicate with the younger generation - raised on mobile phones, rock music and "hanging out".

So, for me, CHONGQING BLUES sort of worked - but not in the way intended, and I won't be seeking out any more of this director's films.

Additional tags: Xiaoshuai Wang, Bingbing Fan, Hao Qin, Xuegi Wang, Yi Zi, Fang Lei

CHONGQUING BLUES played Cannes 2010

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