Suzhou River

Lou Ye's edgy feature is a little too derivative of much better movies to succeed on its own. However, in the context of recent Chinese movies, it's a pretty amazing piece of work. A clever pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO and Wong Kar-Wai's ultra-stylish CHUNGKING EXPRESS, this dizzying romantic mystery dives into the depths of erotic obsession,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Lou Ye's edgy feature is a little too derivative of much better movies to succeed on its own. However, in the context of recent Chinese movies, it's a pretty amazing piece of work. A clever pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO and Wong Kar-Wai's ultra-stylish

CHUNGKING EXPRESS, this dizzying romantic mystery dives into the depths of erotic obsession, and offers a surprisingly unflattering view of Shanghai as a dangerous den of thieves and reckless youth. Suzhou River is the polluted, man-made waterway that snakes through the heart of Shanghai, and it

shadows this twisty tale, narrated by an unnamed and never-seen videographer. He's hired by the owner of a seedy nightclub to shoot a video of his main attraction: a mermaid show featuring Meimei (Zhou Xun), a mysterious beauty who swims around in a large tank of water wearing a long blonde wig

and sequined fishtail. Of course, the videographer is immediately smitten. He and Meimei begin a strange courtship, even though he knows nothing about who she is or where she goes when she disappears for days at a time. Meimei tells him the story of Mardar (Jia Hongsheng), a motorbike courier who

was hired to drive a young woman named Moudan (Zhou Xun, again) to and from her aunt's house. Mardar and Moudan fall in love, but Mardar gets involved in a kidnapping plot that ends with Moudan's disappearance into the Suzhou River. Before she jumps, she promises she'll return one day as a

mermaid. As a mystery, the film will keep you guessing, even after it's over. But as homage, it backfires. Lou, one of China's "sixth generation" filmmakers, has so thoroughly copied the kinetic urban style of Wong Kar-Wai that Shanghai begins to feel no different from Hong Kong, while the extra

twist on VERTIGO's plot — doubling both the hero and the object of his obsession — only diffuses the film's emotional impact.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Lou Ye's edgy feature is a little too derivative of much better movies to succeed on its own. However, in the context of recent Chinese movies, it's a pretty amazing piece of work. A clever pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO and Wong Kar-Wai's ultra-st… (more)

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