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'Breaking the Ice' review: Three young Chinese adults on edge of hell in Anthony Chen's poignant Gen Z drama

Singapore writer and director Chen Qiusheng ‘s latest film Breaking the Ice ( Ran Dong ), calmly and eloquently emphasizing the situation of the young protagonists, each of whom seems trapped, their lives suspended, as if frozen in place. The city of Yanji in northeastern China is home to vast, snow-covered painterly landscapes and a large Korean community that proudly preserves its cultural identity in the shadow of the North Korean border. It’s a circumstance that makes the story’s three outsiders more isolated, just as it makes their bond more immediate, an emergency lifeline that hangs over the cold.

Following his English debut,

Drift, about an African refugee paralyzed by trauma, here Chan returns to the softer observational style and quieter intimacy of his gorgeous family drama, Ilo Ilo, which won Best First Film at the Camera d’Or at Cannes a decade ago.


BOTTOM LINE A satisfying minor character study.

: Cannes Film Festival (One Concern)
: Zhou Dongyu, Liu Haoran , Qu Chuxiao

Director and Screenwriter
: Anthony Chen

1 hour37 minute

Characters from the new movie – a woman and two men 20, the story of a trio of captivating, impeccably naturalistic actors – wrought with grief, frustration And tormented by anxiety, these pains, frustrations, and anxieties are rarely expressed, but their many introspective moments reveal just how much they’re hiding.

Chen cites his love for Jules and Jim as a source of structural inspiration, but that’s here What turned into a fast-moving relationship unfolded over just a few intense days. It’s not a traditional romantic triangle, but an impressionistic portrait of Gen Z; its reflections on disappointment and stagnation seem likely to resonate broadly with younger audiences, regardless of their cultural background.

At the center of the trio is Nana (Zhou Dongyu), who has relocated to Yanji hard on her home and is now a tour guide, Experience authentic Korean traditions by picking up and dropping off Chinese tourists around town by bus. One of her stops is the restaurant where Xiao (Qu Chuxiao) works. Nana has a half-hearted, edgy relationship with the good-natured slacker, who moved there from Sichuan after dropping out of school to help his aunt and her Korean husband, who owns the store.

The third element is Haofeng (played by Liu Haoran), who works in finance in Shanghai and attends a former classmate’s wedding in Yanji. Restraining socializing with old friends, he reluctantly joins in the festivities. He was showing clear signs of depression and possibly suicidal, as further suggested by his constant avoidance of calls from a mental health counseling center.

While Haofeng is on a bus tour, he is attracted to Nana, who remains indifferent until he loses his phone and she lends him some cash. Nana later invited Haofeng to dinner with her and Xiao, and at the end of a drunken evening, all three returned to her apartment, a privilege her would-be boyfriend never had.

It’s a soulful party scene, with director of photography Yu Jingbin’s camera close to the faces of the three characters, exploring their loneliness, Xiao picks up the guitar and uses an emotional Naked singing a sweet and melancholy love song is rarely seen in Chinese-language films.

Hao Feng missed his flight back to Shanghai, Nana and Xiao encouraged him to stay a few more days. Much of The Breaking Ice involves Chen observing the subtle shift in the dynamic between the three of them during this time. Haofeng tentatively comes out of his shell and sleeps with Nana, who shares her shattered dreams with him. Shaw knew what was going on, but he recorded it all calmly, keeping his place in the triangle and swallowing any hurt he felt. The sex between Nana and Haofeng has not changed much either.

There are some poignant scenes that don’t push the narrative, but deepen our understanding of the characters, all brooding individuals as a collective unit, more by accident and Not by design. They wander along the North Korean border fence, visit a zoo, attempt to steal a bookstore, and get lost in the high corridors of an ice maze.

The soft beats of the Hoping Chen and Soo Mun Thye clips and the shimmering score by Singaporean musician Kin Leonn make these loose, flowing episodes very enjoyable, even as they subtly It’s easy to point out that none of the three friends really belong in this strange place, which is strange in many ways.

On a beautiful end, they ascended Changbai Mountain with the aim of seeing Tianchi, a breathtaking body of water in a crater on the border of China and North Korea. Chen laid the groundwork for the catharsis, with poor weather conditions hampering their trek. But instead, the film touches all three of them deeply with its graceful turns to folklore, art, and even a dash of magical realism.

Rich in emotion but never overemphasized, The Breaking Ice has a concise narrative that is reflected in the filming Stylistically, and nicely offset by subtle and complex relationships. The ending notes of hope and renewal are lovely.

Complete Credits

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard)
Production companies: Canopy Pictures, Huace Pictures

Starring: Zhou Dongyu, Liu Haoran, Qu Chuxiao
Director and Screenwriter: Anthony Chen
Producers: Xie Meng, Anthony Chen

Director of Photography: Yu Jingbin

Production design: Du Luxi

Costume Design: Li Hua
Music: Kin Leonn
1235302616Editor:Hoping Chen, Soo Mun Thye
1235302616 Sales: Rediance
1 hour 37 minutes THR Newsletter

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