Zhi zi yu gui
Gateway | Gateway
A female Chinese reporter ventures into eerily hostile territory in Yang Yishu’s sharp, cerebral thriller.
In her second fiction feature, Yang tells the story of Xiayin (Huang Lu), a taciturn, thoughtful, idealistic magazine columnist from Nanjing, a Chinese metropolis on the Yangtze River. Xiayin insists on pursuing "sensitive" stories despite her conservative editor’s admonishments. When an impoverished rural resident tracks her down to hand over evidence of a poisoning scandal near his village, Xiayin takes on his case, but she is shut down. Her frustrated career and stillborn marriage lead her to risk everything. She sets off on an investigative trip that transforms into a rich dreamscape of danger and possibility. As she heads to the countryside, her memories mix with intense, atmospherically photographed encounters with a mysterious young girl who may be her younger self, frightening meetings with rural goons who threaten her safety and a disorienting night voyage that threatens her unborn child.
Yang Yishu is an intrepid independent Chinese director whose previous two documentaries and one feature combine uncompromising cinematic intelligence with a powerful, gut-level sympathy for those voiceless, marginalized Chinese citizens who are not represented in mainstream Chinese cinema. Her low-key, intensely reflective approach unfolds dreamlike mysteries with gentle beauty in her distinctively quiet, insistent cinematic voice, posing vital questions about Chinese society’s moral condition.
— Shelly Kraicer