24 City review

Puzzling, otherworldly and elegant, Jia Zhangke’s latest film, finally gifted a UK release, spins around the reminiscences of past employees of a Chengdu military-supply plant that’s been closed to make way for luxury apartments.

The line between fiction and reality is unclear in the blend of docu-style interviews with real-life workers and actorperformed monologues ( Joan Chen appears as a worker turned beautician).

Punctuated with eyebrow-raising poems about aeronautics factories, its treacle-paced obliqueness will frustrate some viewers.

But the pay-off’s a layered, haunting portrait of China in its shift to a capitalist economy.


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