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HomeReview‘Locust’: Cannes Review

‘Locust’: Cannes Review

Dir/scr: KEFF. Taiwan/France/US. 2024. 135mins

At first look, the characteristic debut of multi-disciplinary Taiwanese-American artist KEFF treads acquainted turf with its Taipei-set story of a low-level hoodlum whose underworld affiliation threatens to scupper his fledgling romantic relationship and convey bother to his surrogate household. But, incorporating the current political upheavals and the rising financial integration of Better China lends wider resonance to what’s ostensibly a neighbourhood story. If the protagonist of Locust by no means participates in an illustration, his sudden awakening facilitates a metaphoric exploration of how energy is ruthlessly consolidated by coercion, corruption and manipulation.

Simmers confidently earlier than erupting in forceful vogue

KEFF’s second brief movie, Taipei Suicide Story (2020), was introduced at Cannes Cinefondation, and the filmmaker ought to get pleasure from a bountiful return when Locust premieres in Critics Week. The purposeful method by which Locust fuses his prior exploration of transient existence with suitably punchy crime components will seize the eye of occasion programmers and distributors alike. Additional pageant engagements ought to comply with, whereas Locust has loads of potential as a specialty title – its visible type is as finely-tuned as its cogent social-political critique.

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The movie is about in 2019, with Taiwan’s information media fixated on the seismic anti-government protests erupting in Hong Kong. Non-verbal twenty-something Zhong-han (Liu Wei-chen) is, nevertheless, simply involved with getting by. Since shifting to Taipei from the sticks, he has settled right into a job at a noodle restaurant run by Ah-Rong (Yu An-shun) and his spouse Yujie (Wu Yi-jung) who deal with Zhong-Han like their very own son. His after-hours gig is markedly completely different, although. Beneath the gleeful command of gang chief Kobe (Devin Pan), Zhong-han and fellow foot troopers brutally accumulate money owed from enterprise homeowners in hoc to native gangster Boss Wang (Frank Lin).

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Opposite to his handiness along with his fists, Zhong-han exudes a delicate aura which attracts comfort retailer clerk I-Ju (Rimong Ihwar). He’s additionally loyal to Ah-Rong and dutifully accompanies him to conferences with outwardly useful councilman Li Jia-bao (Ma Nien-hsien) when the restaurant’s new landlord hikes the lease in a blatant bid to have the property vacated. Zhong-han believes that his two lives are completely separate, however Ah-Rong’s scenario step by step prompts the realisation that all the things is, the truth is, linked.

The movie’s title identifies Zhong-Han because the type of solitary insect which might change its behaviour, even turning right into a pest, and the energy of Chen’s lead efficiency is how he silently conveys the burgeoning interior battle that outcomes from his character’s twin nature. This symbolism speaks to a sure outsider expertise, and is emphasised early on by an evening time shot of Zhong-han gazing up at bushes which have been glowingly lit to appear to be a swarm. Backstory about Zhong-han’s rural upbringing is basically withheld till the ultimate stretch, with the viewers left to take a position  concerning the origins of his propensity for violence, whereas sympathy for his marginal scenario is tempered by his misguided decisions.

The crossroads at which Zhong-han finds himself is represented by the polar influences of Kobe and I-Ju, each of whom like his unquestioning method however make completely different assumptions about his persona. Kobe sees Zhong-han as his “deadliest gun”, whereas I-Ju makes use of him as a sounding board for her disappointment with life within the capital. The previous performs on Zhong-Han’s want for fast money, whereas the latter faucets into his craving for companionship. Each see society as unfair or flat-out rigged: Kobe’s resolution is to commit crime beneath the wafer-thin justification of sophistication warfare by shaking down wealthy youngsters, whereas I-Ju is unable to carry again tears whereas watching Hong Kong protest footage on-line.

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Though the younger solid members ship credible performances, the standout flip is contributed by veteran character actor Yu, whose credit embrace early movies by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang. Ah-Rong’s arc is the same old case of pleasure coming earlier than a fall because the restaurateur tries in useless to forestall his household institution from being changed by a hotpot chain. Yu underplays fantastically, and provides some touching grace notes in Ah-Rong’s last gesture to Zhong-han.

By way of its style beats, Locust options some bruising fisticuffs however principally simmers confidently earlier than erupting in forceful vogue. Scenes of thuggery are juxtaposed with Zhong-Han’s halting courtship of I-Ju, with Yoshihiro Hanno’s rating easing the temper modifications by its minimalist mix of foreboding electro and melancholic piano preparations. Glorious lensing by Danish cinematographer Nadim Carlsen captures the nice and cozy enchantment of Taipei’s fading conventional areas, whereas additionally mining neo-noir aesthetics from a strobe-infused afterhours scene that originally represents escapism and alternative however comes to indicate a soulless future.

Manufacturing Firm: Kindred Spirit

Worldwide gross sales: MK2 Movies, intlsales@mk2.com

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Producers: Anita Gou, Siuloku O

Modifying: KEFF, Siuloku O., Jenson Tay Yi

Cinematography: Nadim Carlsen

Music: Yoshihiro Hanno

Important solid: Liu Wei-chen, Rimong Ihwar, Devin Pan, Yu An-shun, Yi Jung-wu, Nien-Hsien

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