China | 96 MINUTES | Mandarin |
Zhang Yibai's poignant story of grief and the transition to adulthood takes place against a moody industrial landscape. Teenager Xian Chuen has lost his father, a taxi driver, to an accident that sent his cab hurtling into the Yangtze River late at night. The surviving passenger is a young, edgy club girl whose injuries demand, according to Chinese tradition, that Xian Chuen's mother take responsibility for her dead husband's actions. But in lieu of paying the young woman's hospital bills, which she can't afford, Xian's mother invites her to move into their home. Both mother and son act as nurse to the recovering girl, compelling Xian Chuen to probe the wound of his father's recent death. In a bittersweet tradeoff, he also finds a sense of self in his growing attachment to the enchanting houseguest. One of China's most exciting new filmmakers, Zhang is a clever storyteller, presenting the moments of unfolding trust between the teenagers in intimate snapshots. The Yangtze winds its way through the heart of the story, shot in shades of blue that lend the film a watery quality, but his film is as much a love letter to the urban landscape as to the emotional. In one scene, this master of the long shot lovingly frames an incomplete bridge whose two spans, jutting from opposite shores, seem to serve as a metaphor for the missing pieces in Xian Chuen's life.