Saturday, June 3, 2017

Soul on a String (Pi Sheng Shang De Hun) (SIFF 2017) - Movie Review

The Movie: Soul on a String

The Director: Yang Zhang

The Cast: Quni Ciren, Kimba, Siano Dudiom Zahi

The Story: A compassionate Buddhist embarks on a mystical quest through Tibet, pursued by black-traders and a man hell-bent on vengeance. Along the way they encounter mysterious travelers, among them a loyal elf, a love struck woman, and a mute psychic.

The Review:
First and foremost, this movie is absolutely beautiful to look at. The wide open shots of lush landscapes and rolling vistas are a real treat and demands to be seen on the big screen. It looks and feels like a classic Western film and director Yang Zhang matches that aesthetic with a very slow moving and deliberate pace. This allowes the intricately layered story, which is filled with Tibetan folk lore, to settle in nicely. There is so much going on and so many odd characters to keep track of that, at times, it can be a bit difficult to follow so will you want to pay attention throughout.

The primary focus of the story is on Tabei (played by Kimba), an ex-con who runs into a series of mysterious events that sets him on a journey of redemption. Tabei's path is not the typical hero's journey we normally see in films like this and his struggles provide a lot of the depth to the overall story.  Meanwhile, the two sons of a murdered man are on the hut for revenge and are taking out anyone who has the name of the killer, which just happens to be Tabei. If you are expecting lots of action and fight scenes, you may be a bit disappointed as they are few and far between, although, when things do heat up, it is pretty impressive to watch.

The Verdict:
Soul on a String is a very well thought out film, filled with a variety of characters, story lines, and lessons to be learned. At almost two and a half hours, I felt like the run time was a bit long, but it is very necessary and definitely worth the investment.

Soul on a String is an official selection of the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival.

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