Trailblazing Chinese director Lou Ye's vivid, kaleidoscopic tale of doomed lovers lost in the fog and filth of Shanghai's canals receives a stunning new restoration.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
One of the trademark films of the sixth generation, Suzhou River catapulted Chinese cinema into the next millennium as a rustic, radically sublime take on neo-noir and Hitchcockian obsession. This gorgeously grainy restoration harnesses the film’s improvised energy, rekindling the excitement of renegade filmmaking at the turn of the new century.
Vibing off American crime capers, Wong Kar-wai love stories, and the evergreen influence of the French new wave, Lou Ye’s restless direction spins like a carousel around a Shanghai videographer, whose impromptu images of urban decay depict the spread of post-Cultural Revolution alienation; a motorcycle courier entangled in a gangland plot; and their mysterious girlfriends, who may or may not be the same person. Originally banned for its rebellious spirit—Lou screened it internationally without State permission—Suzhou River still crackles with the same defiant, expressive cinematic fire decades later. — Tim Wong
“Regardless of what you think may be the answer(s) to the various riddles presented by Suzhou River, one thing is for certain: the entire film is lovely to look at. Originally shot on Super 16 film, the new restoration doesn’t scrub away any of the grain from the original images, ensuring that the film’s gritty, underworld atmosphere remains intact and preserving a rich color palette that feels decidedly vintage despite having been shot only twenty-three years ago.” — Lee Jutton, Film Inquiry