Three Adventures of Brooke (2018) Poster

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7/10
A light, charming, occasionally intelligent but uneven, inconsistent set of parables.
shanbhattacharya_24 October 2020
Chinese director Yuan Qing's first feature film '3 Adventures of Brooke' is a three-part fairytale-like parable, set in the beautiful Malaysian coast city of Alor Setar, starring Xu Fangyi as the titular character, a Chinese tourist. Each of the three stories begin with her bicycle tire being punctured while riding through the countryside, and her subsequent meeting with three different groups of strangers. Although the screenplay often veers dangerously close to being a tourist attraction guide of the area, it has a certain charming, light, conversational, Rohmer-esque quality, with occasional flashes of deep, insightful brilliance and unpredictable detours. The first story is a comedy of errors with a slight moralist touch, where she encounters a friendly local woman. In the second story, a minimal, slightly more serious drama, she meets a group of young men determined to turn the city into a more modern, economic, upscale tourist hub. The third story, decidedly the film's centrepiece, deals with her meeting an old French writer (played by Pascal Greggory) and taking a strangely romantic journey with him, while engaging in profound conversations about life, love and the universe.

Among the three pieces, I found the last segment a bit preachy and self-indulgent, albeit being more direct and romantic. The apparently aimless minimalism and the slick underhandedness of the first two stories disappear in this, as the director tries to make a definite point, and the script falters at places. The actors do a very god job though, in all the segments. The cinematography is bright and cheerful, in keeping with the theme of light fantasy. Overall, this exercise of weaving three stories out of a simple inane event holds good even in this uneven result. [6.5/10]
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