by: Thea Amor Alvarado
“Expect the unexpected.”
In celebration of the Chinese New Year, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Red Amnesia- a partaker of the 11th Spring Film Festival, is the embodiment of such quotation.
Red Amnesia is part of Wang’s trilogy films that everyone can enjoy without charge. Together with the other Spring Films- “Wolf Totem,” “A Complicated Story,” “Book of Love,” “Everybody’s Fine,” “Horseplay” and “Red Amnesia”, all you need to do is arrive an hour before the screening since the seats are limited.
It is a suspense thriller movie that focuses in the story of Deng, a widowed elder who keeps receiving anonymous phone calls and later finding out that her mysterious caller is someone from her remorseful past. She is living alone, content with what she has, independent and does not give up her family duties until satisfied enough to relax with her television and foot bath spa. Deng has two sons and a mother at a nursing home that she visits and brings home cooked meals everyday. This routine of hers starts to derail because of the occurrence of the calls where no one ever says anything on the other line. However, after a few more calls, she starts to hear breathing on the other end. She starts to think that her sins from when she was younger are haunting her.
The movie progresses as a teenage lad, another character, surfaced. He is always wearing a black and blue striped shirt and continues to follow the old lady wherever she goes. This confused me as to whether he is in love with the old lady or is in a mission to kill her.
The plot develops and becomes clearer when the movie explained her reasons of guilt. Deng worked at a factory in the mountains where she and her family also live when a crisis caused the factory to be closed. That’s when problems arise as to what they will do for a living and how will they feed themselves. In addition to this, only one family can leave for Beijing where life is better. The choices are between the families of Deng or Zhao’s who is a close friend of hers and an ally in a movement against shutting the factory down. That time, Deng was pregnant with her second son and refuses to succumb to poverty so she used the movement to her advantage and leaked the information to the government saying only that Zhao was part of it. As a result, Deng’s family was chosen to be transferred in Beijing.
This is when the mysteries of the story start to unfold. The lad, a fugitive from murder and break-ins and who also kept on following and observing Deng appears to be the grandson of Zhao, fixed on revenge at first but ceased after experiencing the kindness of the elderly woman. I had to trace the dots backwards and start comprehending the flow of the story.
As the show nears to reaching its climax, you start to take in more of the story’s depth. The seasoned director Mr. Wang makes you understand but then forces you not to
accept the reasons that the plot is trying to serve you. The story abruptly ends at the death of the lad who tried to escape from the hands of the police but failed miserably.
The story is very human. Thriller, drama, comedy flavored with motherly love in one package. How about a round of applause Mr. Wang?