The Wild Goose Lake


Roxie Theatre Sun, Feb 2, 2020 9:30 PM
Roxie Theatre Tue, Feb 11, 2020 9:15 PM
Film Info
Director:Diao Yinan
Film Category:Narrative
Running Time:113 min.


In any film noir, there is The Moment It All Goes Wrong. But it is unlikely you will soon see that moment, or any of the genre’s other staple plot points, staged and executed with quite the slick, dark dazzle of Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake. At an underworld gathering, held in the dingy amphitheater of a hotel basement, a few dozen grimy gangsters are learning the latest techniques in motorcycle theft. Then comes the parceling out of territories in the unnamed nearby city, and a squabble erupts over a lucrative zone. A shot rings out, a brawl ensues, lit by one swinging light bulb and imagined in a serious of punchy closeups: a grimacing face in a half-nelson; a bloodied, tattooed knuckle; a prosthetic being ripped from its limb. It’s a scene we’ve watched a hundred times before, but here it feels electrifyingly new.


Co-presented by SFFILM.


With his Berlinale-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice, Diao fused China-noir with arthouse social realism to deliver a strange, potent cocktail that left a lingering, headache-y sustain. This time, the sociopolitical subtext may be absent along with the hangover, but there is something almost profound in how comprehensively The Wild Goose Lake imagines film noir belonging in China’s seedy, second-tier suburban underbelly. Diao’s film is far from the first to find the oily neons of nighttime noodle shops and rain-slicked alleyways the ideal setting for a twisty story of gangsters and cops and beautiful women of unknowable loyalties: Aside from the director’s own back catalog, everything from Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night to the films of Wong Kar-wai has borrowed at least a few such embellishments. But The Wild Goose Lake may just end up being the last word in Chinese crime noir, because it does not want (or need) to be anything else. - Jessica Kiang, Variety