Premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival under the Un Certain Regard section, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT offers an eerie interactive story to the audiences of the 48th International Film Festival of Rotterdam.
For his second feature, Chinese director and writer Gan Bi maintains his beloved Guizhou province (Southeast of China) as location and delivers a story driven by pure magical realism. As its title suggests, this film is indeed a journey. It is an existential and introspective journey for its protagonist, who goes back to his hometown and sets on a quest to find his past lover.
Following a narrative structure that can easily be compared to a Murakami novel, the audience is constantly unsure of the time or the realness of the action seen on screen. The film can be divided in two parts or dimensions. The first two thirds are set in the real world, between the past and the present, in which the lead is active in his search. In the last third, an impressive 45 minutes long shot in 3D, the main character enters an eerie world in which things seem to happen to him, thus making him passive.
Just as his debut feature KAILI BLUES, Gan Bi’s film is a meticulously choreographed film. The cinematography is splendid and the camera work is incredibly smooth, perfectly making the narrative transition between times and dimensions. Unfortunately, the film’s editing is rather questionable. A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT deals with abstract notions such as tales and dreams, which in some way should require a thorough montage. However, the events intertwine awkwardly which can be quite confusing and, ultimately, lead its viewers to lose focus.
Nonetheless, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT remains a film that must be seen. On top of its interactive nature, as it invites its audience to join the main character on a 3D dream, the cast is fantastic and delivers poignant performances. If you are looking into contemporary Chinese cinema, this film would make a great starting point.