Eye For Film >> Movies >> An Asian Ghost Story (2023) Film Review
An Asian Ghost Story
Reviewed by: Sunil Chauhan
Orbiting somewhere around the Chris Rock-fronted Good Hair and Sion Sono’s Exte, An Asian Ghost Story riffs on wigs, their multiple lives, the mortality of hair, and its afterlife.
Floated into this exploration is the significance of Hong Kong as a midpoint between China and the west, with director Bo Wang using hair exports from the mid-20th century to tell a story of an under-documented industry, broader Asian industrialisation, and the barriers posed by the US to Chinese trade.
Wang’s playful, elegantly experimental film weaves eerie supernatural investigation and multiple potted histories with statically shot street scenes captured with lo-fi film stock in parallel with a narration told from the point of view of a factory worker who speculates on how a wig can retain the spirits of those whose hair was shorn to make them.
Wang’s affection for his subject matter is clear, but he also seems to delight in inviting the viewer to question what’s relayed. Adopting an ambiguous tone designed to engender some disbelief, it makes for a film more quizzical than literal, altogether fitting for Wang’s interest in “in-betweenness”, whether it’s hair, Hong Kong, genre, or presentations of fiction and authenticity.
Held together by this tonal curiousness, the film ends up occupying what the narrator characterises as a "strange time with many strange people and strange things". It lends to a piece that is never less than fascinating, while also shedding some light on a business few are likely aware of.Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2023