Pretension is high on the menu in “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” a joyless tranche of post-apocalyptic dystopia set in continental East Asia that’s headed nowhere except arty fests and digital friendly events. Hong Kong helmer (Nelson) Yu Lik-wai’s first feature, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” a flawed but moody portrayal of Mainland Chinese immigrants, seems a model of clarity and atmosphere in retrospect.
Setting is the mid-21st century (on a budget), when the neo-Maoist Gui Dao sect rules throughout China and the Korean peninsula. Brothers Xie Xiaozhuai (Diao Yi’nan) and Xie Xiaomian (Zhao Weiwei) are rounded up and sent to Camp Prosperity, a gulag where Xiaozhuai meets Korean single mom Xuelan (Jo Yeong-weon) and Xiaomian hooks up with sickly Chinese woman Lanlan (Na Ren). When an (unseen) coup frees them, Xiaozhuai and Xuelan travel to a ruined industrial city, where more proto-fascism awaits them. Dialogue is terse and elliptical, largely composed of unanswered questions (“Are you from Mongolia?” Reply: “Why are you going south?”), and perfs stiff and emotionally desiccated. Listed among associate producers is cult Mainland helmer Jia Zhangke (“Platform”), which gives a hint of the French-produced pic’s arid tone.