The Obscure” is certainly that. Blending of documentary and fiction, centered on a writers’ colloquium in southwest China, this will be tough sledding for non-Sinophiles, but it does leave lingering emotional traces. Reminiscent in its fictional bits of d.p.-turned-helmer Lu Yue’s first feature, “Mr. Zhao” (1998), this is fest fare that could travel to specialty channels and Sinophile gatherings.
Setting is a 1999 gathering of some of China’s best-known scribes to gab about Poetry — which they do for 30 minutes before the fictional story even starts. It’s fascinating stuff if you know the writers and are interested in the subject; most auds will start to tune in when the colloquium organizer, Chen Xiao (Wang Tong), recognizes an old flame, Zhao Zixuan (Wang Zhiwen), who’s in the same hotel on business. Between more academic gabbing, the film crosscuts to their tentative get-together, reminiscences and regrets: a slowly involving story, beautifully played by the two thesps, that does deliver emotionally. A cheeky ending half-succeeds in trying to unite the pic’s two sides. HD package is OK, though colors look gray and washed out on the bigscreen. Chinese title simply means “A Story.”