A Lingering Face- -
A Lingering Face follows an everyman named Lei Haiyang (Pan Yueming), who has recently broken up with his girlfriend. Deciding to go to Beijing, he hitches a ride with a driver (Ma Xiaoqing) and a fellow hitchhiker, Yanzi (Li Min). Waking up from a nap, Haiyang finds the truck parked in the woods and the driver raping Yanzi. Hiding in the undergrowth, Yanzi sees Haiyang, but does not reveal his hiding position. Terrified, Haiyang runs away.
Following his much-fraught debut, The Making of Steel, which finally surfaced outside China in ’98 in a censored but still respectable version, writer-director Lu Xuechang looks to have a smoother passage with his sophomore feature, the intriguing and easily accessible mystery-drama A Lingering Face.
Film follows an average young guy, Lei Haiyang, who’s dumped by his girlfriend and hitches a ride on the road to Beijing. Also climbing in back of the truck is miniskirted, trashy Yanzi, who’s running away from home in search of the bright lights. When Lei wakes from a sleep, the truck is parked in some woods and Yanzi is seemingly being raped by the driver and his companion. Terrified, Lei scrabbles into the undergrowth, and when Yanzi is dragged past his hiding place the two exchange a momentary silent look. The girl, however, doesn’t give him away. In Beijing, Lei sees a TV report about a female corpse found in the same woods and eventually reports his experience to the police. Then, by chance in the street, he spots a girl with a wig and shades who looks just like Yanzi… Set in average, non-touristy Beijing locations, from a backstreet garage where Lei finds work to discreet clubs where the girl entertains paying customers, the movie has a genuinely offbeat character, without any heavy underlining or condescending to the viewer. Script keeps several well-drawn characters on the boil throughout, and the plot continues to spring surprises right to the very end. Soundtrack amusingly uses bursts of genre-type music alongside a more magical extract from a famous western computer game; all other technical credits are excellent.
Thanks to Far East Film Festival