Although tender and likeable, Wang Xiaoshuai’s film about Lin (Wang Xueqi), a middle-aged man who returns to Chongqing after 14 years at sea, is less of a mystery than its copious flashbacks suggest. Lin wants to know why his teenage son (Zi Yi) was shot dead by the police after taking a woman hostage in a supermarket (a timely story after recent school shootings in China). His ex-wife doesn’t want to know him, but Lin reconstructs his son’s absence through conversations with an old friend and with those who knew the boy, including an ex-girlfriend who may have triggered his trauma. Flashbacks to events in the supermarket begin to fill in gaps, but the real interest of the story is not in discovering what happened, but in exploring the themes of disconnection and reconnection between people and places. In the ether are ideas about the generation gap and those being left behind by China’s development – ideas illustrated evocatively by striking shots of Chongqing in a blue mist. A solid, good-looking film, but also one that in the end feels oddly academic.
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