'A Touch of Sin' - Movie Review

Jia Zhangke's "A Touch of Sin" ended up in my queue of movies to watch because it's very well regarded by critics. Jia makes half-hearted attempts to link the four pieces of the movie, with marginal overlap - people and/or places from each of the four segments overlap for moments in several places, but this is essentially four half hour movies, each about a person driven to violence. The original Chinese title is (according to Wikipedia) literally translated as "heavenly fate" or "fated doom," apparently because these violent outcomes were inevitable. The stories:

  • a man in a village feels the politics and money in the village are ignoring him, so ... he gets attention
  • another man travels from place to place, in love with the handgun that enables his lifestyle
  • a receptionist at a sauna having an affair with a married man has a run-in with some unpleasant clients
  • a young man doesn't like his life and turns away from responsibility for an accident

I really had to struggle to watch the final segment: I knew it would be miserable, and I didn't want to see it. Each is different, well filmed and well acted, but bleak, unpleasant, and without a point except for the violence. And also pretty convincing that modern China isn't the greatest place to live with lousy working conditions and miles of identical econobox apartments. Not too surprising that the Chinese government hasn't allowed it to be released inside China.