Bai Ri Yan Huo

Black Coal, Thin Ice
Northern China, 1999. The grisly discovery of several corpses is made in a small town. A bloody incident during the attempt to capture the alleged murderer leaves two police officers dead and another badly injured. The surviving officer Zhang Zili is suspended from duty; he takes a job as a security guard at a factory. Five years later, another series of mysterious murders occurs. Aided by a former colleague, Zhang decides to investigate under his own initiative. He discovers that all the victims were connected to Wu Zhizhen, a young woman who works at a dry cleaners. Pretending to be a customer, Zhang begins to observe her and finds himself falling in love with the reticent Wu Zhizhen. One cold winter’s day he makes a horrific discovery. His life now in danger, he realises it is not always possible to separate guilt from innocence. Diao Yinan’s use of the characters of the ex-police officer and the femme fatale is a direct reference to classic detective films. This director’s third feature is a noirish thriller in drained colours which, whilst playfully alluding to the genre, also invites us into the lives of very ordinary people.
by Diao Yinan
with Liao Fan, Gwei Lun Mei, Wang Xuebing
People's Republic of China / Hong Kong, China 2014 106’

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