Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 90 minutes
SIFF Says:Director Geng Jun (Youth) presents a dry tragicomedy set in a nameless Chinese burg and featuring several quirky characters all involved in some sort of con. There’s the traveling soap salesman (Zhang Ziyong) who entices the townspeople to smell his sweet product―and as soon as they take a whiff, he robs their unconscious bodies blind. And of course there’s the wily Buddhist monk (Xu Gang) trying to push his overpriced talismans on anyone who looks his way; not to mention the ostensibly simple Christian man (Gu Benbin) looking for his mother who mysteriously went missing years ago, and a couple of bumbling cops (Zhang Xun, Yuan Liguo) who can’t seem to get a grasp on any of these criminals. The residents are pitted against each other as the day goes on, with absurd results. In this rural portrait of crooked characters, the plot plays out with a deadpan sense of humor and several befuddling twists and turns. Gen Jun’s Free and Easy has been stylistically compared to the works of Jim Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, and Aki Kaurismaki, securely placing his clever criticism of corrupt society up there with the best.
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