Platform review

Made without the permission of the authorities, writer-director Jia Zhang-ke's melancholy epic examines the cultural and social changes that swept through China during the '80s.

The characters here are a group of young friends, all members of a performance troupe in a dingy town. Initially, the likes of accordion-player Minliang (Wang Hong-Wei) and singer Ruijuan (Zhao Tao) help perform Maoist propaganda. But, influenced by the newly available pop emanating from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the group renames itself the All Star Rock And Breakdance Band and embarks on a series of provincial tours to spread the word.

Filmed in lengthy, static takes which pointedly avoid close-ups, Platform occasionally feels too detached and elliptical. It's an intriguing film nonetheless, especially in its ambivalence. For while Minliang and his colleagues yearn to escape the past, gleefully adopting new fashions in clothes, hairstyles and music, personal happiness continues to elude them.

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