Eye For Film >> Movies >> Night Bus (2020) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Joe Hsieh offers a cautionary fable of sorts with this animation that unfolds during a single bus journey. The shadows of a hug on a wall near its start hide more than they reveal but by the end of this trip from a far-flung bus station darkness will have consumed much of the tale.
The setting has an immediacy, we've all been in one of these stations late at night, with its flickering lights and eerie stillness. At first, it seems, that the positive side of nature might be here - that hug, a monkey sharing a pomegranate with its baby, a man offering to help an elderly lady board the bus with her bag. These signs of altruism will soon fall away, however, once the bus hits the road.
Sound design is crucial, not just in helping us picture the scene of that lonely station, but in drawing our attention to the necklace of pearls worn about the elderly lady's neck, clattering together as she moves. When it disappears, Hsieh lets the darker side of human nature rip as cruelty and heartlessness bubble up as if from nowhere. This is adult animation, showing how quickly savagery can take hold - perhaps even more so in the 'in between' world of the bus, where the concept of justice is in the hands of the mob. When a monkey bears its teeth, is it any more animalistic than what we've just seen some of the passengers do in the name of the law?
Hsieh - who won a jury mention for this film at Tallinn Black Nights - suspensefully withholds details, only revealing his secrets deep into this film, giving a sense of character filled completeness that many take about three times as long to achieve. There is love and hate here but also a sense of reaping what you sow and vengeance from unexpected quarters - a journey you won't forget.Reviewed on: 29 Nov 2021