A Land Imagined
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Sleepless in Singapore: a migrant worker and a hard-boiled cop almost cross paths in this prize-winning neo-noir drama from Singapore. Introverted Chinese migrant worker Wang Bicheng (Liu Xiaoyi) has disappeared from his workplace, a land-reclamation site where he and his Chinese and Bangladeshi colleagues are exploited like indentured workers. When Wang makes off with his delivery truck, brooding, low-key Inspector Lok is on the case. Searching through traces of Wang’s life, Lok uncovers Wang’s nighttime persona: an insomniac who lingers in an internet café presided over by Mindy (Luna Kwok). Wang’s insomnia seems to be infectious, and soon Lok’s own sleeplessness threatens—or is it tempts?—him to immerse himself in Wang’s world. As Lok uncovers sinister online games, suppressed nightmares and violent crimes, he reflects on Singapore, the sleepless, synthetic city, built on shifting sands of reclaimed land, under which may lurk traces of deeply buried transgressions.
Fresh from its triumph at the Locarno festival, where it won the Golden Leopard top prize, young Singapore director Yeo Siew Hua’s second feature is a compelling combination of nighttime detective story, magic-realist mystery and social-realist exposé. Hyper-controlled Singapore has never seemed so mysterious, so unstable or so eerily unreal as in this tense hallucinatory fantasy of lost connections and buried dreams.
— Shelly Kraicer
Golden Leopard: Best Film, Locarno 18