Romantic Eggs

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Romantic Eggs
"This is a delight, a chaotic collage of the dreamlike and the deliberate."

Opening with the correct version of that quote from Casablanca, the tune that follows from the piano is Twinkle Twinkle and that is not the only way that we are distorted. It would take "26 minutes" and more than a hundred pages, and one of those is right already.

A group of young women address the camera directly, before their talk of Heidegger and Givenchy is replaced with two overlapping crawls in the Star Wars tradition, hot pink, if there was a tetrapartite ellipsis I did not have time to see so busy was I trying to read one match-moved digital text over another.

The first part, alien eggs and chansons romantique from the stereo. Another form and colour palette, the moonish jade of a small apartment. Pushkin, the stag beetle that can see the future, intones his predictions. There are more parts, more eggs, more songs, choirs overlapping in an abandoned railway tunnel, layer upon layer.

Qiming Yuan as DoP has many challenges, shared with Li Guipin as cinematographer. It's not quite that each sequence has its own look, approach, but not far off. Yubin Wang's (among others) art direction gives everything a certain sense. Yes some of it is obviously papier mache, some of it is fishbowl pinpoint in its accuracy, others somewhere inbetween, a punk aesthetic that steals and rolls its own.

This is a delight, a chaotic collage of the dreamlike and the deliberate. "Do I wake or sleep" says the tape, the bilingual subtitle, the second hand does not move. Is the nightingale's one of the seven eggs? To attempt so much is a credit to the ambition of Sun Xiangping and Gao Lei. This is a whirlwind, a joy, where else will a rubber duck in a flame-painted helmet herald a kiss between Bogart and Bacall? The yellow jackets on the motorcyclists are the only colour on the motorway.

The intertitles have the ring of late model Karaoke, the Cathedral windows and cola cans and the sounds of "Reign" by Prinzhorn Dance School. In regency bonnets and Cyrillic, a pink painted tuktuk, an anime ice-cream heist, in something that is clearly unwilling to compromise.

This astonishes. There are no shortage of moments I will recall at leisure, from the terrarium that itches to say something unkind about Blake or the other six to the agit-prop teen-pop sensibilities of this chaotic delight. This is not Melancholia, more echolalia, to repeat for the joy of it. I smiled and gasped and wondered, the ritual flames and the neon bridges. "Baked ham I'll be with your forever" makes no sense and all of it. So given to whimsy and intent behind it that I was minded of the architectural nihilism of A Clockwork Orange, a work which took more than 125 pages, more than 26 minutes, to say something as compelling about human nature. That's more to do with feel than direct descent, it's Wolfgang A not Ludwig Von but nonetheless imposed.

"When all is ruin once again" wrote Yeats, but now we are in an age vast and trunkless, bulbous and fast. Is this a moment of beauty, recalled at leisure? Half a thousand times yes, scattered like grains of sand. Big and small at the same time, Romantic Eggs whisks us away even as it batters us with shells of sensation. Student films are incubators of talent, and what is hatched here is a sunny-sided success.

Reviewed on: 11 Oct 2021
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After some insects warn a girl the Earth is under threat she sets out on a mission to save it.

Director: Sun Xiangping

Year: 2021

Runtime: 26 minutes

Country: China

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