Zhang Lu's A Queit Dream is a movie of such melancholic poetry, gentleness and deadpan wit that I am brimming with a deeply rooted sadness that is on the verge of a great belly laugh. Truly a rare and welcome experience.
Lu, a Chinese-Korean who started out as a novelist and has been working in cinema since the turn of the century, often chronicles the lives of people who find themselves caught between cultural and ethnic identities. A Queit Dream features Yeri, a young Chinese-Korean woman who tends to her bar and takes care of her wheelchair bound father. Three good for nothing guys practically live at the bar, and are all in love with Yeri. She is mostly entertained by their clumsy boyish flirting. What all four have in common is a shuffling aimlessness. The feeling for much of the film is one of sleepwalking in the day, or as if you are staring down looking at your shoes, caught in a reverie, and then for no reason other than to laugh, you laugh.
From Yeri encountering an old lady exiting an abandoned wardrobe on the side of the road ("What were you doing in there?" "Praying") to her beguiling dance when the biker of her dreams comes in for a beer, it's the slight absurdist touches that make the film's realism extra poignant. Yet for a film full of such loneliness and existential angst A Queit Dream is never a dour affair. Indeed this is comedy of the disenfranchised at its very best. And because of that it is easily one of the best films of the year.
Those of you who are in NYC can catch it @newyorkasianfilmfestival @filmlinc July 12. Everyone else, start manifesting.