EIFF 2013: BEIJING FLICKERS Movie Review
One of the world’s fastest growing cities and biggest economies, Beijing is a place where the divide between the rich and poor is vast. But among the impoverished houses and grimy bars that lie in the shadows of this metropolis, Zhang Yuan manages to find beauty, tenderness and humour in his newest release Beijing Flickers.
His film interweaves several characters, all of whom are searching for happiness amid their dire conditions in China’s capital. There’s San Bao (Duan Bowen), a former factory worker who has recently been left heartbroken when the love of his life became pregnant with a businessman’s child; Wang Ming (Lv Yulai), an unfulfilled parking attendant forced to wait on the rich for little pay; Xioa Shi (Shi Shi), a transvestite poet who has failed to meet his aspirations; and Youzi (Li Xinyun) whose dreams of becoming a famous singer are crushed when her band decides to move forward without her.
As Zhang Yuan attempts to juggle all these plots and protagonists Beijing Flickers occasionally suffers from muddled structuring, but it’s ultimately difficult to resist the film’s overall charm. He depicts these characters and their camaraderie with so much heart that you genuinely care for them and their woes – a fact which is hammered home by the deeply human performances from the entire ensemble.
But while it’s the characters that undeniably take center stage in Beijing Flickers, Zhang Yuan’s dialogue is the true star of this show. The Chungking Express inspired voiceover, for instance, which meditates on the economic injustice that divides them and the love, loss, friendship and shared struggles that bind them, is pure poetry.
Beijing Flickers shows at the Edinburgh Film Festival on Thursday 20th June and Saturday 22nd June