Suzhou River


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The style of the film is closer to the Danish Dogme school than classical Chinese neo-realism. Director Lou Ye uses a handheld camera, Shanghai night life locations and a frenzied zoom lens with the enthusiasm of an adventurous student.

The story is ambiguous, even mysterious, and is told by the cameraman. Mardar is a motorcycle courier, popular with the girls for his brooding good looks.

One of his jobs is to ferry Moudan, the teenage daughter of a black marketeer, to her aunt's house every day. The girl falls in love, enabling him to kidnap her and demand a ransom. When she discovers how little her father is prepared to pay, she runs away and leaps off a bridge into the Suzhou river.

Mardar searches in vain for her. Years pass until one evening he comes across the narrator's girlfriend, working as a mermaid in a night club and is convinced she is the missing Moudan. The girl denies ever having set eyes on him and resents his constant attentions. Is she telling the truth, or hiding another identity?

Ye's filmmaking becomes more inventive than Mardar's quest. The city, with its polluted waterways, could be anywhere in industrial Europe. It rains a lot and the streets need a clean.

Such honesty feels like an act of defiance.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2001
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Suzhou River packshot
a motorcycle courier in Shanghai searches for the girl who jumped off a bridge
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Director: Lou Ye

Writer: Lou Ye

Starring: Zhou Xun, Jia Hongsheng, Yao Anlian

Year: 2000

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: China/Germany


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