The unexpected love child of Wong Kar-wai and Andrei Tarkovsky, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” transforms from a lush, slow-burn pastiche to an audacious filmmaking gamble while maintaining the pictorial sophistication of its earlier section. It’s both languorous and eye-popping at once.
Stream Long Day's Journey Into Night
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Although Long Day’s Journey is a far more polished work than Kaili Blues, it also feels a lot more calculated, often sacrificing emotional impact for ostentation.
Its various components defy logical arrangement both as viewed and in retrospect. What they build up to is even more seductive than anything that led up to it — a moment of breathtaking romanticism that’s as intoxicating as it is unexpected.
Though his symbolism sometimes errs on the side of obviousness, Bi shows an uncommon knack for recreating and exploring the space of a dream—its transforming identities and places, the unreality made more transportive by the 3D format’s underutilized potential for creating dramatic space, matched by the mutations of the camerawork from close-up to tracking shot to crane shot and back again.
Bi’s film is ultimately akin to the early image we see of Wildcat’s body being wheeled on a mine cart and pushed gently into the abyss, taking us on a slow and steady rollercoaster ride through memory, melancholy and movie magic.
While Long Day’s plot seems an afterthought, the experience is all that matters: the audience gathers all the clues, rummage through them to soak up the atmosphere and enter a world unlike any seen before. Make no mistake about it, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is a flat-out masterpiece.
A sense of disorientation is a wholly appropriate response to a movie in which the past is both irretrievable and unshakable. But even at its most openly baffling, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” never loses its seductive pull.
Those who have the patience to go with its ravishing flow will find ample rewards, as Long Day’s Journey is a beautiful, smoulderingly romantic film.
Plunging viewers into an extended dream sequence in the name of abstract motifs such as memory, time, and space, the film is a lush plotless mood-piece swimming in artsy references and ostentatious technical exercises, with a star (Tang Wei, “Lust, Caution”) as decoration.
Somehow, Bi Gan’s film is self-aware and fluid as its own viewing experience, yet inextricable from its loud-and-clear influences.