Start chasing after memories and you risk disappearing down a rabbit hole, suggests this virtuoso Chinese drama. Back in his hometown after 20 years away, Luo (Jue Huang) decides to find the girl who left him all those years ago. It’s always raining in China’s tropical south-east, and while Luo’s voiceover and the roving camera echo the work of Wong Kar-wai, the surrounding urban wasteland provides a setting straight out of Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’.
Meanwhile, the moody atmosphere showcases a story split in two. Firstly, we cut between Luo’s quest and his possibly addled memories of the girl in question (Wei Tang from ‘Lust, Caution’). Then Luo, maybe on the verge of tracking down his elusive prey, goes to the movies, slips on his 3D glasses and the film turns into a gobsmacking extended single take in 3D. From there, things only get stranger.
If you like everything cut-and-dried it might prove a slog. But as Luo’s life seems to loop back on itself, a hypnotic spell is cast. If he can just get to the end of this corridor, or up these stairs, perhaps the answer awaits? Writer-director Bi Gan has a marvellous eye for scuzzy, rainswept visual poetry. His tracking shots entice you into a miasma of memory from which there seems no escape. You may not have a clue as to the whys and wherefores of it all, but you’ll certainly know you’ve seen something.