推拿 | Lou Ye, 2014
China/France | Mandarin with English subtitles | Format: DCP | 117 minutes
Easily the most powerful and innovative Asian film of this year, Blind Massage consolidates the rebirth of Mainland director Lou Ye (NYAFF 2013 selection Mystery) as a world-class talent. Lou creates a true ensemble movie: the blind and partially sighted masseurs and masseuses of Sha Zonqi Massage Centre, in Nanjing, central China, a distinctly unglamorous, bottom-line undertaking run by the light-hearted Sha Fuming (Eric Qin Hao) and the more serious Zhang Zongqi (Wang Zhihua). It's a powerful ride through a parallel world of metaphysical cinema that Lou first flirted with in Suzhou River (1999) and the big-budget Purple Butterfly (2003), but this time he also shows us a world of faces without eyes, full fathom five into the fundamentals of cinema and the very fabric of perception, a world where light and darkness lose their usual meaning but basic human emotions (love, jealousy, friendship) remain the same. Alongside its scenes of beauty felt or briefly glimpsed, Blind Massage contains moments of humor, joy, and pure horror, and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s music is always there to add color to Lou’s magnificent poetic canvas.