Floating Landscape

"Excellent"

Floating Landscape Review


On the surface, Floating Landscape is all about quiet nighttime snowfalls, hushed conversations, and empty streets in an ignored corner of a provincial Chinese city, but don't let the meditative mood fool you. The film packs a powerful emotional punch as it takes on big issues about death and detachment and redemption through love.

It all starts with the death of Sam (Ekin Cheng) after a long illness. His girlfriend Maan (Kar Yan Lam) is paralyzed with grief and finds solace only through the act of recopying one page of his journal each day. Though she has been with Sam for a long time, she knows nothing of his childhood, so not knowing what else to do with herself, she journeys to Qingdao, a seaside city notable for its old and crumbly colonial architecture. Somewhere nearby there must be a modern downtown of skyscrapers humming away, but director Miu-suet Lai restricts the action to the quaint cobblestoned sections of town, where winter snows are dusting the streets.

Maan takes up residence with a cousin of Sam's who operates a one-chair beauty salon inside a run-down rooming house. Maan's mission: to locate a beloved landscape that Sam drew before he died. She's not sure why she wants to find it, but find it she must. Unfortunately, the locals who look at the drawing don't have a clue.

When the bike-riding neighborhood postman Lit (Ye Liu, the star of 2001's memorable Lan Yu) hears about the drawing, he offers to help Maan find the location. As their travels around the town begin, Lit is immediately smitten, and Maan reciprocates, even as frequent gauzy flashbacks to her idyllic days with Sam remind you that she's still deep in mourning and not at all ready to start up a new relationship. The more that Maan digs into Sam's past--looking at photos, checking out his old haunts, digging up time capsules he's buried--the more depressed she becomes, and the more jealous Lit becomes. How is he supposed to compete with a ghost?

Lit and Maan eventually do find a grove of trees that seems to match Sam's drawing, but something is a bit off, and Maan comes to the conclusion that she really doesn't want to find the location, fearing that to do so would be to kill off Sam's memory once and for all. Lit, meanwhile, grows increasingly frustrated, not only by Maan's moodiness but also by an injury that costs him his job and by his unfulfilled goal to become an illustrator of children's books.

As winter slowly turns into spring, all you can do is hope that the new season will help these two lonely and tortured people finally connect and hang on. Both Kar Yan Lam and Ye Liu do great work with a screenplay that's short on words and long on meaningful glances. Even Ekin Cheng, seen only in flashbacks, is soulful enough to make you realize how much Maan has lost. Soapy though it may sound, Floating Landscape plays out with such restraint that it achieves an almost poetic precision tinted with just a touch of thought-provoking Buddhist philosophy. It's a unique and touching journey well worth taking.

Aka Lian ai feng jing.

Flying bicycle? Sign us up!



Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 16th October 2003

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

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