Freitag, 14. Februar 2014

Berlinale: She's Lost Control / 白日焰火 (Black Coal, Thin Ice)

German writer/director Anja Marquardt's New York-based drama "She's Lost Control" is a fascinating exposé on intimacy and loneliness in modern times through the portrayal of a young woman working as a sex surrogate. The direction shows great confidence and instincts, designing scenes with clearly defined, emotionally eloquent set-ups and observing them from daring angles. It also puts the characters front and center, exploring their faces and bodies in close quarters with open curiosity and incisive attention. The actors, especially lead actress Brooke Bloom, play their part in making all this exciting to watch as they bare their comfort, awkwardness, lust and pain under microscopic scrutiny to highly engaging effect. The camerawork is terrific, capturing the action in bold, geometrical compositions and bright, crispy pictures. Ultimately the limited focus and lack of a more resounding concluding remark give this film a slight feel of an extended short, albeit one that's beautifully performed and crafted, with an immediate, magnetic pull.

Chinese competition entry "白日焰火 (Black Coal, Thin Ice)" is a very solid detective noir with artistic aspirations and bursts of directorial flourish. The plot is not exactly labyrinthine but has enough twists and a savage premise to be consistently absorbing. The brilliant production design contrasts seedy lime green and loud neon pink against a mercilessly white snowscape, creating images that are visually arresting and evocative of desolation, lurking misfortune. The cast, headlined by 廖凡 (Fan Liao), is good if most of them are not given that much to do, like the somewhat wasted 桂綸鎂 (Lun Mei Gwei) in the role of the stoic femme fatale. In the end this film firmly belongs to writer/director 刁亦男 (Yinan Diao), though. The way he stages and choreographs the scenes, filled with spontaneity, sly dynamics and a volatile mix of gothic gruesomeness and dry humor, is wonderfully layered and keeps you right on your toes. An early episode in a hair salon that ends horribly wrong showcases that ridiculousness and scary realness wrapped in one. Styled and shot with such discerning eyes and vivid cinematic language, there's not one boring frame to be found.

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