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The second, and indeed final, film I ventured to at this year's Raindance Festival in London was a slow burner. 'Forgetting to know you' (or 'Mo Sheng' if you're that way inclined) is the only IMDb- known film from director Ling Quan, though is produced by modern master of Chinese cinema, Jia Zhang-ke, giving it an additional notch of interest, as well as a stamp of his influence on the film.
Starting off as a slow-paced tale about a couple and their child, initially it is unclear as to the exact nature of their relationship. Divorced, separated, still together but probably having less sex than before, we are unsure, though it is clear that all is not well. Shot in a manner similar to that of Zhang-ke's slow-paced realism, the film takes a while to get into before the real story starts to unfold.
With neither party in the relationship exactly great at communicating with the other, a night messing around on the Internet leads the husband, Cai, to uncover elements of his wife Chen's past. The discovery leads dormant questions to resurface, forcing the couple further apart leading to the ultimate finale to be raised.
'Forgetting to know you' takes some patience to start. Not exactly a long film, it does, however, take a while to get going, but once it finally does, you do find yourself drawn into the story as it develops, peaking your interest at the film's quite abrupt and inconclusive ending. This is the film's strength: While other films can drag and leave you looking for the end credits, this one sees your interest rise and rise before an anti-climactic, but not altogether dissatisfying conclusion. The fact that the film ends leaving things unresolved only adds to this - the ending of an episode of a TV series that leads you yearning for the next.
Being produced by Zhang-ke, there is a minimalist feel throughout, with less in the way of editing and letting the camera roll through scenes. Some interesting side view dolly shots could have been used more, though the photography is strong throughout.
What is good about 'Forgetting to know you' is the continuation of the style of modern Chinese cinema looking at the bleaker side of change in the country, with a realism that may not always entertain but leave you with something you won't immediately forget.
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