Lim Kah-wai continues his cinematic travels in the Balkans after “No Where, Now Here”, although this time the film has a more oriental flavor, since the protagonist is a girl from Macao.
The aforementioned girl is Adela, and as the movie starts, she has just arrived to Zagreb from Macao, to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships where she left her boyfriend’s iPhone after he died in an accident. Through her travels, she tries to deal with her loss, while she meets different people, ranging from a driver who leads her to a hostel in Belgrade on her way to meet Alex, a guy she met on Instagram, a Tynisian rapper, and a Serbian lesbian who just broke up with her girlfriend, before she ends up in Montenegro.
Once more, Lim Kah-wai directs a film that functions as a tour guide both in the countries Adela visits and in the life stories of the people she meets, with each new individual highlighting different cultures, particularly in comparison with hers. In that fashion, one could say that the movie unfolds as an adventure, but there is not much action in the film, as is the case in real life, since Lim definitely aimed for realism here.
However, there is a dramatic essence permeating the film, which begins with Adela’s own story, and continues with the rest of the people she meets, most of which have some rather sad stories from the war to share. This element finds its apogee in the finale, where a big surprise awaits Adela, with much of the film’s meaning deriving from those sequences.
Despite the relatively unusual narrative, which moves somewhere between the documentary, the tour guide and the drama, the beauty of the images is undeniable. In that fashion, Aleksandar Angelovski’s cinematography is excellent in all the aforementioned aspects, with the Krka waterfalls in the end providing the most impressive shots. His camera focuses much on Adela Sou (who does her film debut as Adela) and the film benefits much from this approach, both due to her acting and the way she looks. The various scenes in clubs and bars also work quite well visually, additionally providing one of the most central elements of entertainment in the Balkans, nightlife. Lim Kah-wai’s editing allows the film to flow in a relatively slow pace that suits the film’s aesthetics nicely, while its 80 minutes definitely do not overextend its welcome.
Once more, Lim used locals and not professionals as his actors in his effort towards utter realism, and I would say he succeeds in that part, with the various protagonists bringing out a genuine flavor from each region.
Evidently, Lim Kah-wai’s cinema is not for everyone, since his approach to cinema borders on the experimental. However, if one were to overcome this element, he would find much artistry and a number of realistic, social comments that deem the film quite interesting, at least as much as the “tour-guide” aspect.