AKA: Da xiang xi di er zuo
Directed by: Bo Hu
Starring: Yu Zhang (Yu Cheng), Yuchang Peng (Wei Bu), Uvin Wang (Huang Ling), Congxi Li (Wang Jin)
Country: China, Asian Cinema
Language: Mandarin (English subtitles)
Genres: Depression, Old-Young Relationships, Siblings-Family, Teens
Plot – Spoilers:
A 4-hour long work of mastery capturing a day in the lives of mostly miserable characters living dreary lives in a Chinese province.
A few teenagers study at a school that’s soon to be shut down and their futures aren’t predicted to be anything beyond becoming roadside vendors. The Vice Dean of the school has seduced one of the girls and inexplicably, sees a personal future that’s better than that of his students. A couple of the boys have the immediate concern of dealing with a bully who’s accused them of stealing his phone. The bully’s brother is a feared gang leader who is also world-weary, having just witnessed his friend jump off a balcony after he slept with his wife. An old ex-armyman is being pushed into a depressing retirement home by his son.
In the midst of all their hopelessness, there’s the legend of an elephant claimed to be a sort of stoic monk. This elephant now becomes an aspirational figure for several of the characters, as they get convinced that nothing about life really changes. And as night draws, all the characters will cross paths and affect or depress each other furthermore.
Unfortunately, we will not see any more from director Bo Hu as he killed himself shortly after completing this film.