December 19, 2014

Black Coal Thin Ice (2014)

Black Coal Thin Ice (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Diao Yinan
Country: China

Movie Review: The third feature-film from writer/director Diao Yinan, “Black Coal Thin Ice” mixes drama and mystery, in a neo-noir cop thriller set in Northern China, and occasionally becomes hard to follow. An alcoholic ex-cop and his former partner decide to investigate several connected murders occurred in the region, where parts of the victims’ bodies are dumped in different places via coal stacks shipments. These crimes were similar to other cases occurred five years ago. The clues take, the now private investigator, Zhang (Fan Liao), to Wu Zhizen (Lun Mei Gwei), an elusive laundry clerk woman, widow of one of the victims, who will become the key to the mystery, since every man who got close to her ended up dead. The film title alludes to the distinct atmospheres lived in the suffocating interior of coalmines and the bitter cold of the exterior, where the snow often erases crucial traces. The two main characters also live in different realities, only converging once after investigator and investigated start an unpassioned affair that can put them at risk. Yinan’s filmmaking style brings Tsai Ming Liang to our mind, especially in the nocturnal scenes and strongly accentuated colors, aspect that matched very well the dark tones of the story. “Black Coal Thin Ice” is almost phantasmagoric in its shadows and presences, but in spite of the inspired visuals and framing, there were scenes that I felt a bit out of context, in addition to a finale that was everything but unexpected. The film won the Golden Bear in Berlin, where Fan Liao was also considered best actor.

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