A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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SUZHOU RIVER
2000 - Lou Ye - China / Germany
99

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Through mood and atmosphere, Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye's debut, Suzhou River has an intriguing narrative in which the narrator is seen but never shown and we often get a perspective from his point of view. He begins telling the love story of himself and a nightclub dancer Meimei, before changing the story into a flashback/fairy-tale of a motorcycle courier (Mardar) who's girlfriend Moudan jumped off a bridge and mysteriously disappeared in the Suzhou River. After Mardar is released from prison he is determined to find Moudan and when he meets Meimei (who looks identical- and both are played by Xun Zhou) he is convinced it is her. Eventually the two stories intertwine and while it would seem to be a complicated mess, it is actually quite effective and engaging without ever becoming confusing. The key lies in the atmospheric mood of the film, which flawlessly captures the romantic longing and mysterious fairy-tale aspects of the story and the emotions (the Suzhou River of Shanghai is also effectively used to express the overall sense of mystery to the film). The comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo are inevitable and justified as both stylishly examine a similar romantic obsession. Lou takes element of Hitchcock as well as film noir and blends the spirit of Wong Kar-Wai (notably the longing of Chungking Express) to create a film that is equally exciting, bizarre, seductive, and stylish.
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