Previously at the ICA - Films

Shadow Days

BFI London Film Festival: Shadow Days

15 Oct 2014

With pregnant girlfriend Pomegranate in tow, Renwei goes back to his remote rural home on the Chinese border. The couple are like exotic animals entering the dusty, depressed and all-but-abandoned mountain town: Pomegranate in western metropolitan clothes with perfect hair, tattoos and manicured nails and Renwei the picture of urban cool. Work is scarce, but Renwei’s uncle, the town’s mayor, offers him a quasi-military job enforcing the one-child policy (ironic, given his own circumstances and the desolation of the town). Renwei is quickly seduced by the job’s brutal power and blind to his own hypocrisy.

Director Zhao Dayong’s (Street Life) doc background shows in the naturalism of the cinematography, but realism gives way to ghost story as the couple’s life begins to unravel with spectres of past and future haunting them. In addition to its sharp indictment of the one-child policy, the film acutely observes the dehumanised cruelty that results from blindly following orders. [Tricia Tuttle]

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