Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Shadow - Fantasia 2019 Movie Review

The Movie: Shadow

The Director: Zhang Yimou

The Cast: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Wang Jingchun, Hu Jun, Guan Xiaotong, Leo Wu

The Story: Life and intrigue in an ancient Chinese court.

The Review:
Director Zhang Yimou has given the world some truly beautiful works of art including Hero, House of Flying Daggers, the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games Opening Ceremony, and more recently The Great Wall. His latest effort however might actually be visually his best work yet. While those other iconic films and events have been defined by their beautiful colors and dynamic visual styles, Shadow goes completely the opposite direction as Zhang Yimou goes not quite black and white using grays and splashes of color to accentuate every scene.

The end result of  this washed out color pallet is an unexpectedly bold and striking tone that is perfect for the story which is very dark and moody. Most of the story focuses on intrigue, espionage, and dealings behind closed doors but when the action floodgates are finally opened, the director holds nothing back in giving the audience what it is looking for. The drama is heavy and I felt it to be a little long winded which is typical of the genre but I felt the pacing could have been ticked up just a notch.

Still though, I can appreciate the more deliberate style of story telling because it allowed set pieces to stay in frame for longer periods of time so all of the beauty and textures could be properly appreciated. The character interactions were always engaging with standout performances from the primary cast and especially from Chau Deng who got to play two characters in the movie. I'll also give mention to Li Sun, Ryan Zheng, and Xiaotong Guan for their efforts as well.

The Verdict:
Shadow is a beautiful movie filled with heartbreak, honor, intrigue, triumph, and tragedy. Director Zhang Yimou continues his dominance as one of the greatest visual story tellers of our time.

Shadow is an official selection of the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival.

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