Exodus (2007)

15 02 2008

Pang Ho-Cheung follows up his 2006 masterpiece, Isabella, with another effort saturated with overwhelmingly beautiful visuals. The protagonist here is also a police officer, but the narrative similarities end there. Isabella is ultimately a “father-daughter” film and this is ultimately a “woman killing men” film. Yes, the film is about a cop investigating, based on his own suspicions,  the secret plans of women, which is to kill all men apparently. Thankfully, Pang is one of the most aesthetically evolved directors ever and in terms of visuals this is another step up for him, perhaps even topping Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, the film which his new style seems to be modeled around.

Tsim Kin-Yip is a cop whose marriage with Ann seems to be going smoothly. One day he interrogates a man caught peeping in a woman’s bathroom. Indeed of admitting to anything, the man explains to Tsim that he was looking for more evidence to support his case that all women are teaming up to kill all men. Tsim assumes the man is insane, but later that very same day, the man confesses in a very mechanical fashion. This intrigues Tsim, who now begins investigating the conspiracy that the man had mentioned in the first interrogation. As he dives further into the investigation, his wife becomes more and more neglected. He feels guilty for this and attempts to spend time with her, but doing so leads him directly into another part of the investigation which then leads him to an affair with Pun Siu-Yuen, the ex-wife of the man Tsim interrogated.

It’s to Pang’s credit that the story is never confined to being just an investigation. All things considered, this is probably as great as a film can be given it’s obvious narrative restrictions. It might be a result of the distinct stylistic choices, but there are some very humane and poetic moments. Fans of plot-driven cinema will feel anxious at times with development taking such a backseat to much more graceful scenes like Ann laying in bed with a cat, or Tsim looking through a window.

Even though this didn’t resonate with me that deeply, it did reinforce just how great Pang Ho-Cheung is. This isn’t nearly as instantly lovable as Isabella but it is more instantly groundbreaking in a cinematic way. It’s a shame that something as evolved as this, will fall between the cracks. The blame can be shifted on Pang, in this case. He isn’t exploring anything truthful or ahem “deep” (not that I care for overly-ponderous films…) in a film like this, so that could be why many arty people like myself will neglect a film like this. The narrative may appeal to a certain mainstream audience, but Pang crafts his films in such a unconventional (to say the least) way that they’ll neglect it as well. Hopefully his second film from 2007, Trivial Matters, will get a bigger audience, Pang deserves one.



One response

20 02 2008

hmm I don’t want to kill all men or anything but this sounds like an interesting movie. Since it’s so new I don’t know if I can find it on dvd but I’ll try.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: