PÖFF: River's Edge

What happens in director Wang Chao’s meditative drama is suggested in the pairing of its Chinese and English titles (the former translates as „Love between a Father and Son“). Love is indeed found at river’s edge in this quietly powerful film whose spell lingers long after its last frame fades to black.

„River’s Edge“ marks a return to form for Wang who made a critical splash with his 2001 directorial debut „The Orphan of Anyang“ and his 2006 Prix Un Certain Regard winner „Luxury Car“. This latest film picks up some of the themes and techniques that animated those earlier titles: parents separated from their children, fathers looking for missing sons, contemplative long takes, and the prolific use of non-professionals. In fact, „River’s Edge“ is cast almost entirely with non-professional actors.

A search in a poor, remote village by a wealthy out-of-towner, a Beijing businessman, for the body of his son who’s died in a river-boat accident, turns by film’s end into bearing witness to a rural China that, while placid on the surface, is in fact roiled by powerful socioeconomic currents from afar. That breathtaking terrain-shifting, accomplished with the gentlest of touch by Wang, seeps through every aspect of „River’s Edge“.