Friday, December 19, 2014


Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014) - Diao
 photo 7821ff77-9151-43a1-8e5d-da12957f5b63_zps881bfbf9.png
 photo dccf732f-d7b0-4511-8c43-9f8de113c177_zpseb94d9ff.png
 photo 1b43dd95-c238-496d-a7c3-193aac4b7a4c_zps1a7d3d2c.png
 photo 92ccb7e8-a220-47cb-8365-b25b5082c6f1_zps95649856.png
 photo 6a3ac60c-4a5b-4e24-8ed3-ed3fd8ebd10c_zps98e5150c.png
 photo 8dfeeffb-10f5-4e18-a306-3cc10d30b115_zps8d34f414.png
 photo d024f4e8-bb1f-4385-9de3-7a6758295ee2_zps17458172.png
 photo d706a35d-cee1-49f5-be10-32b48d0db000_zps08b8b24e.png
 photo f6f383cc-d814-4c0f-ac24-f17d3395bd77_zpsc1cfec13.png
 photo c2fe555f-f6c3-4b50-b1ef-4ba5ac8cc797_zpsac51ab18.png
Black Coal, Thin Ice is a strong, gritty policier that pulls you right in. It features one of the coldest movie protagonists, even in noir standards. The year is 1999. Liao Fan plays 'stached police officer Zhang, whose wife is filing for divorce. He gets injured while investigating what seemes to be serial killings- body parts found in various coal processing plants all over. Then five years go by in a brilliant transition shot. Zhang, now a drunkard, works as a security guard for some factory. Again, body parts are found scattered and it rekindles Zhang's interests in the case and springs him up to investigate on his own. There is a mousy woman (Gwei Lun Mei) working at a laundromat who holds the key to all the murders. As he gets close to the woman, he finds out that her husband, presumed dead as one of the victims from 1999, is still alive and might have faked his death (DNA testing wasn't available back then). Zhang coerces her to give him up. He is just very good at what he does. He is not brutish and doesn't necessarily use violence. But his heart is colder than Nothern China in winter. His environs - grim, cold, joyless and perverted, reflect his character.

The film's almost theatrical lighting scheme (yellow, green, red and purple) doesn't give the film any warmth or slickness, rather it accentuates Zhang's hollow existence. Only in the dance sequence he lends any kind of emotion for the audience. The greatness of this sad/funny dance number is about the same as Denis Lavant's in the ending sequence of Beau Travail. Diao's China, the Beijing Olympics still 4 years away, is still very much provincial ("Who brought in a horse in my apartment?"), yet fast changing and cold-hearted. More dynamic than Lou Ye's Mystery or Jia's Touch of Sin, Black Coal, Thin Ice announces the arrival of another major auteur in Chinese cinema. I gotta track down Diao Yinan's two other films ASAP.

No comments:

Post a Comment