A cop and a hooker mope around to desultory effect in "Seafood," a DV-shot first feature by 33-year-old Mainland Chinese writer Zhu Wen that isn't going to swim any further than occasional fests. Pretentious, often ridiculous dialogue is a surprise coming from the scripter of such notable features as Zhang Ming's "Storm Clouds Over Wuhan."

A cop and a hooker mope around to desultory effect in “Seafood,” a DV-shot first feature by 33-year-old Mainland Chinese writer Zhu Wen that isn’t going to swim any further than occasional fests. Pretentious, often ridiculous dialogue is a surprise coming from the scripter of such notable features as Zhang Ming’s “Storm Clouds Over Wuhan” and Zhang Yuan’s subtle character study “Seventeen Years.”

Taciturn glamour-puss Zhang Xiaomei (Jinzi) arrives in snow-covered Beidaihe, a resort town near Beijing, and checks into a deserted hotel, where she ponders suicide. When a poet opens his veins in a room on the same floor, the police question Zhang — and one of the officers, Deng Jianguo (Cheng Taisheng), starts taking an interest in her, first praising the recuperative powers of seafood during several meals, then raping her and finally trying to stop her from killing herself. Turns out Zhang is a prostitute-with-b.f.-troubles from Beijing, whither she finally returns, for an extraordinary escapade with a friend and a 100-yuan bill. Aside from some dreamy, existential shots of landscape and sea, pic evinces no particular style other than routine DV lensing. Perfs are adequate to dull.

Seafood

China

Production

A Thought Dance Entertainment/Zhu Wen Workshop production. (International sales: Golden Network Asia, Hong Kong.) Produced, directed, written by Zhu Wen.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Liu Yonghung; editor, Zhu; art director, Gao Jianxin; costumes, Fang Xuling. Reviewed on videocassette, London, Aug. 15, 2001. (In Venice Film Festival -- competing, Cinema of the Present.) Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Jinzi,Cheng Taisheng, Ma Liuming, Cheng Leping, Su Ming, Sun Yingrui, Shasha.
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