Tenuous links and plodding storytelling characterize "Here There," a lonely Chinese arthouse postcard from Nowheresville.
Tenuous links and plodding storytelling characterize “Here There,” a lonely Chinese arthouse postcard from Nowheresville. Like many lensers-turned-helmers before him, Lu Sheng (who’s worked with Jia Zhangke) gets lost in a loving engagement with imagery while the story takes a back seat. Fests will snap this up to round out their Asian programs, but “Here There” is unlikely to go anywhere near a commercial theater.
Pic observes a deer herder (Bai Yanbo) trying to survive in inhospitable climes before jumping to a Shanghai restaurant where owner Lu (Yao Anlian) is training waiter Guoguang (Lu Yulai). Over dinner, Lu mentions he has a son living in Gaul, providing a link to a third strand about the struggles of a Chinese photographer (Qin Wei) in Paris. The helmer could have conveyed information with greater economy, taking an hour to establish a feeble connection between the first two strands. HD lensing exquisitely captures the snow-laden Chinese wilderness and Paris, but Shanghai is made to appear as dull as the characters there. Perfs by amateur thesps are just OK, and the indiscriminate direct-to-microphone sound, the curse of low-budget filmmakers everywhere, is annoying.