I thought Durian Durian was an exceptionally charming film. I believe that in this film Fruit Chan has done what lots of movies fail to do, which is to take on a stereotype character, deal with it and then present its flip side in such a humanising and tender way.
The film is largely about a Chinese call girl in HK, and her exploits are seen through the eyes of a little girl living in the back lanes where the call girl works. while this makes for a half-decent premise, Chan takes the film on an arc midway, just as one begins to settle into the setting and characters, and the film begins to explore a richer, subtler and charming side to this girl's life.
The film starts off feeling very urban - the camera is often hand-held, its movements rapid and its compositions documentary like and voyeuristic. however, as the characters unfold and become more and more well-rounded, so too does Chan's visual style. the cinema verity feel is replaced with a measured, elegant style. stillness and lush winter photography dominate, and by the time the picture ends, one has the feeling of being transported to an entirely different place, seeing before one, an entirely different character.
I enjoyed this film, very, very much. the manner in which it handled the character of the sympathetic prostitute reminds me very much of Jean-luc Godard's treatment of Nana Kleinfrankenheim in Vivre Sa Vie - it was measured, not sappy, in some ways magical, in other ways thoroughly real.
Trust me. this is a good, good film.
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