Black Coal, Thin Ice [Bai ri yan huo] [白日焰火]

(China 2014)

A suspended alcoholic detective (Liao Fan) is pulled back into the game when a gruesome murder is committed—and it looks a lot like the same case that got him suspended five years before. A woman (Gwei Lun-Mei) working at a dry cleaner holds the key to the mystery.

Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice (Daylight Fireworks in China) is a beautifully shot film noir drama. Everything about it is icy and cold: its story, themes, and style all bring a chill. One shootout scene at a hair salon wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino movie. Intricate and complicated, it’s a pity I was tired for it. I suspect I missed a bit of interesting subtext that would have made this even more enjoyable.

(St. Anthony Main) A-

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

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