A strong moody atmosphere-driven crime drama is also an entry into this year’s Tiger Uncaged competition, and for good reason; it is an extremely accomplished first feature for one Dong Yue. Here again, setting is a crucial element of the story, with a city to the far north, built around its factories, on the verge of staggering depression in the years from 1997 to the early 2000’s. Its gray monoliths to production cast a dreary enough spell, but Yue also depicts a landscape besieged by harsh weather. This is the stage of a series of ghastly murders, which a revered security officer and unofficial sleuth, Yu, is compelled to get to the bottom of. The film deftly handles a variety of themes. With the overarching dread of economic collapse ever present, THE LOOMING STORM represents struggles that look inward; obsession with achieving a goal and preoccupations of not measuring up. Duan Yihongas Yu eschews both a sense of naïve pride and being haunted by self doubt.
A kindred spirit to the great BLACK COAL, THIN ICE and even South Korea’s supernaturally leaning THE WAILING, a murder case may seem to be the main plot, but it is exploded outward, abstracted even, to deal with bigger issues and ideas. While a bit difficult to construe at times, the beautifully shot drear makes for an absorbing cinematic experience.
THE LOOMING STORM is being screened at the 2018 New York Asian Film Festival on Monday, July 9th, at 9:30 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Director Dong Yue will attend the screening for a Q & A. Visit the NYAFF homepage for tickets and information.