Long Day’s Journey into Night (Di qiu zui hou de ye wan), dir. Bi Gan, China / France 2018, 133 min., Mandarin with English subtitles
Bi Gan’s latest work is a surreal film noir depicting a lovelorn drifter’s return to his hometown in Southwest China.
Back for his father's funeral, Luo recalls the death of an old friend, Wildcat, and searches for lost love Wan Qiwen (Tang Wei), who continues to haunt him. Sculpting time and space through virtuosic technical feats, Bi's film yields successive visual and aural delights. With talismanic cues and motifs of uncanny doubling, the film is bisected — its first half recast in the second through a vertiginous, trance-inducing, hour-long single take. A hushed, hypnotic study of hazy memory, lost time, and flight — and featuring the formidable Sylvia Chang as Wildcat's mother — Long Day's Journey Into Night leads the viewer on a nocturnal, labyrinthine voyage, one that both reveals and conceals a world of passion and intrigue.