Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Luxury Car

Luxury Car by Wang Chao (China, 2006).
Presented at Cannes this year, the film received the award of "Certain Regard".
Luxury car is the third film by Wang Chao who was assistant to the director of The Emperor and the Assassin by Chen Kaige. However Luxury Car may be less interesting compared to the two others (The Orphan of Anyang, shot closer to documentary style and Night and Day, more classic).

The film tells the story of a father, a country school teacher, who arrives in Wuhan in order to find his son after a request of the ill mother. He's welcomed by his daughter, Yanhong, who doesn't tell him that she works as an escort in a karaoke bar. Thanks to her, he meets a retired policeman who decides to help him. Yanhong has a relation with her boss who is introduced as her boyfriend to her father. But the boss may have a luxury car, the shadows of his past come back to him...

Like with Night and Day, Luxury Car offers a very good cinematography and is very well shot. Through this simple story, many recurrent themes from mainland Chinese films can be found : the family relationship, the country and the city, the changing of contemporary China and the evocation of its past, such as the reference of the Cultural Revolution that the father mentioned....). However, perhaps, because the film is too plain and conventional in its narrative, Luxury Car remains the less powerful but leaves a bitter feeling.
To me The Orphan of Anyang was his most engaging, Day and Night was impressive for its image (shots, frames, cinematography..).
This is what Wang Chao said at Cannes about his film (from Cannes website):
"Luxury Car falls within the continuance of the reflections and criticisms already expressed in my first two films, on the reality and historic and political allegories of contemporary China. Here, the gap between the rich and poor, the distance which separates people from happiness, the contradictions between the social system inherited from past and the burden of the present are so many problems which I myself, as a full-fledged member of the people, feel all the weight and intensity. That's why it made me decide to shoot the picture."

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