Double Xposure

(China, 2012)
North American Premiere
105 minutes, DCP, in Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by: Li Yu
Starring: Fan Bingbing, Feng Shaofeng, Huo Siyan

In their third consecutive film together, following Lost in Beijing(2007) and Buddha Mountain (2010), director Li Yu and megastar Fan Bingbing, an actress blessed with transcendent physical beauty, have created a radical head-scratching tale of damaged souls disguised as a baffling genre experiment and a study in self-involvement. Fan has visibly thrown herself body and soul into this thoroughly challenging role, which earned her the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress, and lifted the arthouse title to the top of the Chinese box office.

Song Qi (Fan Bingbing) seems to have every reason to be fulfilled: happily employed at a plastic surgery clinic, she is in a stable long-term relationship with her good-looking colleague Liu Dong (William Feng Shaofeng), and is best friends with rich bored housewife Xiaoxi (Huo Siyan). Things go off the rails when she begins to suspect her seemingly loving boyfriend is actually cheating on her—with her best friend of all people. The two women have a violent confrontation over the affair. Enraged, Song Qi commits the irreparable. Soon, she also confronts her boyfriend, who firmly denies the facts. Much bitter quarrelling follows until… he goes missing. Understandably, she starts losing the plot.

But as Hollywood thriller blurbs would put it, things are not quite what they seem. Song Qi, as she loses her grip on her own sanity, enters the warped world of the titular “double exposure”, where sharp dislocations of reality shatter the barrier between madness and reason. She embarks on a semi-mystical journey (or maybe just a psychotic break) into the unknowable: her past and the darkest depths of her
own subterranean mind. If you are not sure what “double exposure” means after reading this, rest assured: neither do we.

Juggling with a set of surreal visual tropes, playing games with your head, high fancies, and convoluted narrative weaves, XPOSURE is not just a virtuoso exercise in paranoid delusions, it’s also Li’s most spectacularly photographed feature. German D.P. Florian Zinke’s widescreen photography of Beijing and the open landscape of Xinjiang provides a unique sensorial experience. What emerges is mind-bending, infinitely mysterious and a tantalizing combination of sensuality and emotional dislocation. A tour-de-force of schizo faux mainstream thriller, half in love with the transitory and the unfinished.

Monday July 8, 6:15PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets