May 15, 2014 3:51 pm

A Touch of Sin – film review

Visual splendour fails to mesh with social messaging in Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke’s film
Wu Jiang in 'A Touch of Sin'

Wu Jiang in 'A Touch of Sin'

A Touch of Sin has more than a touch of cinema. So does everything by China’s Jia Zhangke (Platform, Still Life). Gnomic plotting meets John Fordian pictorialism. Yet here for once – as four season-hopping tales of violence and vendetta migrate across China – visual splendour fails to mesh with social messaging. Injustice; inequality; the fight against corruption . . .  yes, yes, we get the broad themes. Yet the plots are opaquely interlinked and their individualised messages misty. Add glazed, runic performances. As an eastern western it’s like The Searchers with missing GPS. The spectator wants guidance – but may not want it long enough to stay the journey.

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Nigel Andrews


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