To establish just one thing in advance, Suzhou River is a confusing film. No, let's face it, it's downright weird. However, it is equally an utterly intriguing mystery story, with distinctly stylish overtones of noir.
Director Lou Ye conjures up an unseen videographer, whose narration serves to contradict his own presented imagery (See what I mean?). Equally confusing/confused is courier Mardar (Jia) who comes to be convinced that Meimei (Zhou), a girl working as a mermaid at a dockside bar, is actually the reincarnation of Mudan (Zhou also), the daughter of a bootlegger who seemingly plunged to her death upon discovering her father's complicity in a kidnapping plot. Take a few breaths, and keep repeating 'It's only a movie', you should be okay.
Steeping the character's names in symbolism, Suzhou River is an investigation into the relative power of subjectivity and proves this in its inexactitude of truth, flashback structure, and refusal to provide definitive answers. However, even within this uncertainty, there is still time for commentary upon cultural assimilation, urban decay and juvenile disillusionment. Beguiling, stylish and more intellectual than fifty Big Momma's House's, this is all in all a very accomplished product.
Rotten Tomatoes Score:
Xun Zhou, Hongshen Jia, Zhongkai Hua, Anlian Yao, An Nai
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