Long Day’s Journey Into Night

To be continued…

Film. A small jewel for pointy cinephiles and a technical tour de force in 3D, Bi Gan’s film reveals a director as ambitious as virtuoso.

By Jacques Braunstein

Bi Gan is a gifted chinese filmmaker of 28 years old. He seems to know by heart what the cinema of his country has more pop. The first part of his second film Long Day’s Journey Into Night, is a kind of a compilation of all the greasy thrillers produced over there. A taste of neons and low dives which takes his roots on the Hong Kong Cinema (Fallen Angels, Won Kar Wai, 1995). The memory of a heartbreaker woman loved and lost as on Black Coal, Thin Ice (Lion d’Or in Venise in 2014). A murderer never resolved as on A Rain without End (surprise success of summer 2018). And a paradoxical nostalgia for the China of 1990’s, kind of Far West where everything was allowed as on Ash Is Purest White of Jia Zhangke, also presented in Cannes this year.

But what could only be a somewhat vain track game for pointy cinephile or a silly thought for pressed amateur is the long prologue to a second part as virtuoso as upsetting. When the hero takes refuge on the cinema to kill time and puts on 3D glasses, the viewer is invited to do the same… And at this moment starts a second film. A long sequence shot where the hero hopes find his loved woman, guided successively by a child ping-pong player, then by the manager of a games room, karaoke singer in his spare time. Amid this technical tour de force, a hard billiard shot adds an other suspense. And can pass for a commentary on art’s gratuity and the fortunes of creation. Bi Gan takes the very best of what the blockbuster industry has to offer to create movies that are sensitive as well as fragile. A discovery !