Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Numb and Lonely

Night Train (2007)- Diao
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Wu (Liu Dan) is a lonely bailiff/executioner whose heart is hardened by seeing many miserable cases of poor women down in their luck being persecuted by heartless court system. She takes a train to the city to attend mass matchmaking ballroom dances and meetings fruitlessly. After executing one of these miserable woman who was accused of murder (they still use bullet to the head, can't afford drugs), the woman's non-emotive factory worker husband (Qi Dao) starts following Wu, with an intention of killing her. As the fate would have it, when they finally meet, their attraction is mutual. They carry on their brief, fatalistic relationship.

Some seriously underexposed cinematography, use of long lenses and cold colors make Night Train's setting - a expansive, snowy industrial city even more inhuman. But it's also amazingly gorgeous. The film has a lot of elements borrowed from Kieslowski - the slutty neighbor, weighted, fateful encounters, down to Liu Dan's short hair. And the opening reminds you of Olmi's ballroom opening of I Fidanzati. Diao's China is a dark place though, inhabited by numb yet lonely people. Compared to Black Coal, Thin Ice, Night Train feels a little sophomoric, but nonetheless great.