The host for the movie show which played this movie on SBS said that it was a thriller that turned out to be an ironic character study. I never saw this movie as being a thriller but I do agree that it is a character study. The movie is from China and is about two men Ye Minhzu and Old Tian who are asked by the police to watch a railyard in case a suspect for the murder of a dock owner and his family returns. The movie is not a murder mystery but more a drama that deals with the two main characters lives during this case. David Straton says that Jianxin is using the movie as a political comment against the way the government seems to always spy on the people, but I don't think it comes out this way either. In any case this movie is Chinese, meaning that any political commentary must be very subtle.
Surveillance is thus what David Straton calls a character study and as one it does it very well. Ye Minzhu is described as being impatient and fleeting, and the only reason he doesn't give up is because his boss, Old Tian, orders him not too, and then after Old Tian leaves, he is persuaded by a deaf man who just gives words of wisdom on the phone to stay. Old Tian on the other hand is opposite to Minzhu. Tian is dedicated to his work, and even though he is ill of health, he must serve his country and he remains vigilant. Tian is always looking through the spyglass while Minzhu only occasionally looks through and spends most of his time wondering around the water tower. It is only after Tian leaves that he remains there and tries to focus so that he does not betray his friend and boss.
The movie focuses more about Minzhu's life for he is the younger and still trying to work things out. Tian is older and though he is not a shallow character, a few scenes outlines his character. He is loyal to his family and to his country while Minzhu doesn't know what he wants. He is more than ready to walk out on his girlfriend Bei Lin because she had a boyfriend before him. Yet he realises that he does want to and that he made a mistake by walking out on her. As we watch the interaction between them we notice that Minzhu is little more than a typical self centred human being. He wants Bei and everybody else can go to hell. Bei though does love him and the only reason she is angry is because she thinks that he is having an affair. Bei is incredibly loyal to Minzhu and even though she threatens to leave, she gives up everything to remain in the politically oppressed China and to be with Minzhu. Such a noble young lady.
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