China | 100 MINUTES | Mandarin |
THE GREEN HAT
"What is love?" a jilted young man who has held a telephone operator hostage desperately asks a Beijing police officer. The question lingers in the middle-aged officer's head as he goes to his doctor, who prescribes the popular blue pill to help with his sex life. The Green Hat is the Chinese term for a cuckold, and in Liu Fen Dou's film, the comic tragedy of a deceived man is given a spare, cool treatment. Shorn of all conventional visual or location color, The Green Hat is sharply observant and revealing of yet other details, as the middle-aged man takes on layer upon layer of humiliation when he is finally forced to confront his wife's infidelity, his loveless marriage, and the careless swagger of his wife's stud lover. The deliberate pace of this astonishing film, matched by unsparing cinematography, holds us in a helpless fascination as Liu takes us through the powerlessness, desperation, and cold humor in the lot of the cuckolded husband. And all the while the dreadful question hangs in the air: "What is love?"