Dir: Yin Lichuan. China. 2008. 100mins.
An unlikely menage a trios drifts on the margins of legality while struggling to make a living of sorts in Yin Lichuan’s deliberately reticent film. If withholdinginformation rates as an artistic achievement, then Knitting could make a mark in arthouse berths and find its way into the oddfestival. But for most this exhausting film will be a struggle.
Daiping (Zhang Yi) lives with Chen Jin (Lu Yulai) when his former mistress Haili (Yan Bingyan) installs herself in their flat and almost takes over the household. She entices him into a series of unspecified petty crimes, while Daiping is left at home to sulk and knit shawls that nobody needs. When Haili leaves with a man from her past, Daiping gets pregnant but before the baby arrives Chen’s luck runs out and he is kidnapped by gangsters. Haili returns out of the blue with a tentative promise that things might start getting better.
Yin Lichuan seems to be commenting on China’s growing infatuation with money and commerce, how people are forced to stick together to deal with the problems life throws at them and that the streets of the city are not paved with gold, but the script is sketchy on information and makes none of this very clear. As for the characters, Daiping is a passive-aggressive personality and Haili has a good side despite acting like a bully while Chen is a hopeless man, deluding himself that he has authority and gambling his life away on impossible schemes which backfire on him. Nothing is explored nor developed in depth, as if any explanation would be an indulgence.
All three actors tackle their parts gamely, given the limitations imposed by the script, while technical credits are only satisfactory.
United Image Communications
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From novel by A mei