Freitag, 5. September 2014

Venice Film Festival: 闖入者 (Red Amnesia)

The editing on Chinese writer/director 王小帥 (Wang Xiaoshuai)'s dramatic thriller "闖入者 (Red Amnesia)" is decidedly off, so that on the one hand, the movie doesn't feel tight enough, meandering here and there; on the other hand, cuts at critical junctions of the story are often made less than ideally, missing that sweet spot only exact timing can get you and coming across as hasty or redundant when it's going for suggestive. That said, a layered, resonant script that takes the problem of an aging society as background to reflect on guilt and its repercussions is captivating throughout and largely redeems the picture.

Set in modern-day Beijing and around a mysterious domestic harassment case, the movie excels not in its technical achievements, looking mostly pedestrian and not thoughtfully lit. But the intrigue mounts steadily as the anonymous antagonization escalates and cutaways to a silent, seemingly parallel plotline further give rise to an air of malevolence. Even though nothing truly violent ever happens, as a viewer you feel your sense of security slowly breached, in part thanks to the utter unextraordinariness and frightening plausibility of the situations depicted. The eventual revelation of the source of all this bother is not particularly skillfully designed but, riding on a whole history of sentiments, its impact is nonetheless formidable.

Lead actress 呂中 (Lü Zhong) doesn't exactly hit it out of the park with this meaty role of a dedicated mother who would stop at nothing for her family and who now has to suffer the consequences. There are several extended monologues or scenes of pure physical performance that she doesn't perfect, but the ambivalent, tentative, slightly shameful look of someone with an unspeakable past she brings is priceless. Brilliant actors 秦海璐 (Amanda Qin) and 秦昊 (Qin Hao) are relegated to secondary parts here and don't have much to do except snap and pout but of course they are still brilliant snapping and pouting.

Altogether effective both as a home invasion mystery, which the original Mandarin title (lit: "The Intruder") alludes to, and as a drama with a broader concern for the human mechanics in times of emergency, which the English title aptly captures, this is an intelligently written, diligently performed film that uses a timely issue to deliver a timeless message.

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