In “The Breaking Ice,” a brand new movie written and directed by Anthony Chen, three misplaced 20-somethings discover each other in a liminal world. The film takes place in Yanji, a Chinese metropolis bordering North Korea, the place two languages and cultures combine within the shadows of snow-blanketed mountains.
In this icy city, Nana (Zhou Dongyu), a tour information, crosses paths with Haofeng (Liu Haoran), a financier from Shanghai who’s visiting for a marriage. She acknowledges in him a melancholy that rhymes together with her personal, and invitations him alongside to dinner with Xiao (Qu Chuxiao), a pal who works at a restaurant and pines after Nana.
As the three down copious drinks, journey about on Xiao’s motorbike and have interaction in youthful adventures, a love triangle takes form — although it by no means ends in predictable conflicts. It’s as if the chilly, otherworldly solitude of Yanji sublimates the characters’ unrequited needs right into a deeper craving for connection. They are grateful to have one another, even when not within the methods they really need.
The setting is rife with metaphoric potential, and it’s right here that Chen falters as a director. Haofeng’s melancholy is signaled by his behavior of chewing on ice cubes and balancing dangerously on snowy cliffs; Nana repeatedly encounters reminders of her thwarted ice-skating profession; and information experiences of a North Korean defector seem all through the movie, frightening one thing within the stressed Xiao.
Deployed with out subtlety, these motifs overwhelm a movie that, in its finest moments, feels as mild and refreshing as a cool breeze.
The Breaking Ice
Not rated. In Mandarin and Korean, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. In theaters.