The Breaking Ice finds warmth in the cold, lonely winter
The Breaking Ice (M18)
97 minutes, opens on Thursday
Imagine being surrounded by a room full of people and yet still feeling isolated, alone and abandoned.
That feeling of loneliness is almost palpable in one of The Breaking Ice's opening scenes featuring one of the film's leads attending a wedding.
Singapore writer-director Anthony Chen explores the pains and struggles of young people in his fourth feature.
The Breaking Ice follows the blossoming relationship of three young people who come together by chance, set over a few short days in Yanji, a border city in northern China.
Haofeng (Liu Haoran), is a shy, bespectacled young man from Henan who is visiting the city for a schoolmate's wedding.
He obviously has mental issues he is struggling to accept and unwilling to confront. He receives calls reminding him about a mental health therapy appointment but repeatedly and shortly tells the caller they have the wrong number.
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He befriends tourist guide Nana (Zhou Dongyu) who strikes up a friendship with him, partly out of pity for how obviously unhappy he is.
She invites him out for drinks with her friend and the guy who manages the restaurant she brings tourists to. He is Han Xiao (Qu Chuxiao), a moody local whom Nana has an on-off flirtation with.
The trio strike up a camaraderie and go on an adventure where they discover more than just what Yanji has to offer. Each character has their own burden they are carrying, be it broken dreams, feelings of restlessness or wasted potential.
The film is rich in its symbolism involving ice and snow and Chen is able to convey warmth in the heavy winter and the ice breaking between the three characters.
The Breaking Ice is a feast for the senses but not all plot points or characterisations are conveyed as successfully, such as a side plot about a North Korean criminal at large and an intense journey in the woodland wilderness of Changbai mountains.
Ultimately, the film’s key theme of loneliness is relatable to audiences from any country or demographic.
- The Breaking Ice opens in cinemas today.