Bi Gan's film is a soulful depiction of China's increasingly rapid pace of cultural and economic transformation.
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Kaili Blues has the kitchen-sink feel of a new director eager to try every art-film technique in the book, but the film’s beauty and inventiveness are riveting.
Bi is a poet as well as a filmmaker, and some of his verse is in the film. He treats almost every shot as an opportunity to further develop the movie’s plainspoken lyrical vocabulary, in which disco balls and side-view mirrors take on metaphorical significance and water stands in for time.
Dreamy, poetry-filled and prone to veering off on tangents, the picture teases viewers with such self-assurance it's difficult to believe the twentysomething director is a first-timer.
Showing an unobtrusive mastery of camera movement, Bi lends concrete form and rich dramatic life to the Buddhist notion that past, present and future are all equally untenable.
As lovely as the movie is to look at (and the final scene is exceptionally wonderful), it’s too oblique to concentrate its energies and sharpen its focus.
First-time writer-director Bi Gan and cinematographer Wang Tianxing infuse the imagery with a feeling at once otherworldly and familiar — the kind of thing you can't put a name to but would swear you've already experienced.
Bi’s Kaili Blues is a bit too formless to hold together, even despite its immense merits and deep thematic resonance. Still: in one film, he’s already demonstrated himself to be an extraordinary visual stylist who’s not afraid to color outside the formalist lines.
Led by performances imbued with barely concealed sorrow, regret and longing to come to terms with that which has been lost, Kaili Blues affords a view of people, and a nation, caught in between a haunting yesterday and — as implied by the film’s conclusion — a hopeful tomorrow.
Bi’s singular vision bears comparison to those of other geniuses such as Tarkovsky, Sokurov, David Lynch, Luis Buñuel and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Like those auteurs, he achieves what film is best at but seldom accomplishes — a stirring of a deeper consciousness, a glimpse into a reality transcending the everyday.