CFUV @ VFF2020: The Wild Goose Lake

Written by on 02/13/2020

This Chinese neo-noir feature competed for the Cannes Palm D’or last year before garnering international success on the festival circuit and making its way to Victoria screens. 

The Wild Goose Lake tells the story of Zhou Zenong, a gangster on the run after a violent altercation with a policeman. A large bounty has been placed on his head, and Zhou wants his wife to turn him in so that she and their son can collect the money while he’s in prison. However, things quickly get complicated, and Zhou teams up with Liu Aiai a “bathing beauty” who works on the shores of Wild Goose Lake. What follows is a suspenseful journey, where stunning cinematography allows us to travel with the characters from gritty, neon lit alleys to lush jungle roadsides. Seeing this film reminded me of why I love watching international films–they provide such a rich experience of settings, stories, and people who are divergent from the classical Hollywood canon. 

While the action and suspense in Wild Goose Lake is enough to keep any viewer intrigued, I felt that the unique and captivating visual elements of the film were the most satisfying part for me. Thrilling and suspenseful at some points, and cooly contemplative at others, The Wild Goose Lake is a film that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a work of cinema that is unusual yet still accessible and entertaining. 

It’s important for some viewers to note that there is a scene in the film depicting sexual assault, and while I personally felt that the film’s (arguably feminist) ending mitigates some of the tensions that this earlier scene brings up, this scene might make not make this film an ideal choice for some viewers. The existence of this narratively unnecessary plot point brings me back to a familiar position that I find myself often taking as a viewer. When violence against women is an ongoing systemic issue, I find myself questioning whether depicting these kind of altercations is ever appropriate or necessary. 

-Amy Anderson


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