Sydney Film Festival 2014 - Black Coal, Thin Ice

Ok, here it is. I picked this film to see at the Sydney Film Festival because it was billed as Chinese noir and I am a huge fan of noir films, books and TV and I have also read some great crime novels set in modern China, by both western and Chinese authors. I was looking forward to seeing this on the big screen.  In addition, it won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival.  All good on paper. I left the cinema quite depressed. I did not like the movie at all. I am not a fan of the visual style of the movie and it felt that there were three natural endings to the film before it finally ended. Ultimately it was not intriguing enough to me, which is the deathknell for a thriller, especially if it is classified as noir. 

It is the story of a down on his luck policeman who teams up with his ex-partner to investigate how the murders of three men connects to the woman who works at the local laundry. There are some set pieces that are reminiscent of a Tarantino film, however they are plot asides that do not really add anything to the story. The main characters are unpleasant and the central romance falls flat as the women in this film are put upon by the men, either physically or emotionally. There are three distinct scenes were a man grabs and forces his attentions on a woman. Each time the woman escapes from the situation, but it is frequent enough to either be reflective of the society that is being depicted or a comment on the characters involved. It is not clear as the movie does not really hold together thematically. Here is an interesting review that goes into more detail about the plot if you are interested.