Review: ‘Winter Vacation’

'Winter Vacation'

Deadpan delivery and minimalist lensing are the hallmarks of Li Hongqi's numbing third feature.

Deadpan delivery and minimalist lensing are the hallmarks of Li Hongqi’s numbing third feature, “Winter Vacation.” Set in a nondescript town in northern China, the story, such as it is, revolves around a bunch of teens and family members loafing about on their end-of-year break, lensed with a fixed camera largely placed at some remove from the actors. Fans of expressionless recitation will enjoy a few chuckles, though only auds primed for this kind of attenuated comedy will remain seated. A Hubert Bals Fund special and a participant in Locarno’s Open Doors project, “Winter Vacation” received the fest’s Golden Leopard.

Boys hang out in bare spaces or on featureless streets, occasionally bickering but largely just sharing their boredom. Older adults are little more than catatonic, while the youngest tots spout lines beyond their years. Time passes slowly for the characters and the viewer, interrupted by the sound of offscreen fireworks and occasional song-like, whiny sighs accompanying a synthesizer score. As with his previous pics, Li’s camera placement often reveals an architectural eye, but the tone is duller than the leaden sky, leading to unfavorable comparisons with early Jim Jarmusch.

Winter Vacation

China

Production

A Red Flag Film, Ego Sum production. Produced by Alex Chung. Executive producer, Ning Cai. Directed, written, edited by Li Hongqi.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Qin Yurui; music, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, the Top Floor Circus; production designers, Yi Xiaodong, Qin Yurui; associate producers, Zhu Rikun, Zhang Lu, Zhu Wen, Tong Bulin. Reviewed on DVD, Locarno, Aug. 14, 2010. (In Locarno Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Bai Junjie, Zhan Naqi, Bai Jinfeng, Xie Ying, Wang Hui, Bao Lei, Bai Xiachong, Zhi Feng, Jeng Cheo. (Mandarin dialogue)

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading