The Shadow Play
Fengzhong you duo yu zuode yun
Gateway | Gateway
Lou Ye’s visually voluptuous, politically controversial art-thriller recreates the steamily corrupt atmosphere of a Guangzhou development project that turned into a riot. Lou based his film on an actual notorious incident of violent public unrest that occurred in Guangzhou’s Xian "urban village" (an undeveloped village-within-a-megalopolis ringed by skyscrapers) in 2013. Political turmoil leads to the suspicious death of Party official Tang Yijie (Zhang Songwen), and handsome investigator Jiadong (hearthrob Jing Boran) sets off in pursuit of a trail leading pretty much to everyone: the dead man’s seductive, mentally unstable wife (Song Jia), his schoolmate and rival in love Zicheng (Qin Hao), Zicheng’s Taiwanese lover Ayun (Michelle Chen), and Tang’s precocious daughter Xiaonuo (youth idol Ma Sichun).
Cinematographer Jake Pollock provides vividly coloured mobile-framed close-ups that recall the glamour of 1990s Wong Kar-wai. Lou Ye’s brilliant rapid-montage cutting intensifies the disorienting, hothouse atmosphere. But it is Lou’s inspired work with his stars Song Jia, Ma Sichun, and Michelle Chen that creates a collection of fully formed, vividly erotic, bracingly intelligent female characters unparalleled in Chinese cinema.
— Shelly Kraicer