Cast: Lu Huang, Zu Feng
Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, 2019 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection, 2019 Pingyao International Film Festival
The cop life has run its course for A Bin, a detective who subsists on depression medication after the death of a girlfriend. He’s already submitted his resignation letter when the discovery of a severed arm in a river has him starting one last investigation. Volunteering to help–perhaps suspiciously so– is a woman who claims to have had a dream where her missing brother’s body was discovered in the very river A Bin has been investigating. As he looks deeper, the truth behind the arm makes way for more spiritual interrogations: questions of guilt and self-exculpation, the role of Buddhist ceremony. Cooking under the same scorching summer heat as the murder case are a couple of broken hearts, haunted by past deaths, un-mendable by medicine or justice.
Played by director Zu Feng (of Lou Ye’s tonally similar Mystery), A Bin has the look of a man who’s endured too many sleepless nights, oblivious to the sweat dripping off his body or the inevitable dead-ends that his obsessive investigation is taking him down. More than solving a murder, he’s in search of karmic peace, an equilibrium that will set his conscience free. In the mysterious sister he sees a fellow untethered soul, but the cryptic performance by Huang Lu (of Li Yang’s Blind Mountain) allows her to elude A Bin’s desperate gaze, as if to say that clues can be collected, but some answers will always remain irretrievable.