Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Qiuming is going crazy over Lifen ever since she got in his way and then vanished down a street that doesn't exist on any map of his large Chinese city. He works as a surveyor for a digital map company by day and by night works in surveillance, installing hidden cameras in some places and clearing others of the same stuff. He knows where a street should be and he's smitten with Lifen. He finds one opportunity and engineers another to throw himself in her way. It works. They go to the zoo. They go walking. They go to a club. He gets arrested for stealing state secrets.

There are plot points here I'm leaving out as if you do get to see this film you will want to them delivered to you first hand. Not that this strange piece is all that plotty but there are arcs that require you to do some thinking from presented evidence.

What starts as a comfortably clever romance quickly transforms into a gently chilling fable of trust. The onscreen chemistry of the two leads is so perfectly handled, creating tension here and warmth there, that by the time it is crucial to invest in, when Quiming is in the sweaty interrogation room our thoughts are dominated by the need to let Lifen know. That the film is so patient about letting us know that such anxiety was unecessary and how cruel the reason, bears witness to its subtle power.

The title is a term from modern cartography. It refers to a false detail placed intentionally on a map to detect copyright infringement. One scene shows a cartographer instructing a trainee on how to do this, to make the street blend in. The literally shady Forest Lane, where Lifen's laboratory is situated, is the opposite of this, a real street that is left off the map. The trap street in this film is not there but in an object slowly revealed to be a kind of MacGuffin. By the time of the quiet and saddening final image in which we see Lifen watching Qiuming in a mirror at such an angle that she is also looking at us we understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment