Despite the fact that most cinemagoers tend to snub shorts, the truth is that quality can be also found aplenty in this type of filmmaking, something that is becoming more and more evident with the passing time, and with the help of a number of festivals that either focus exclusively or have a significant amount of short movies in their program. “Summer Dream” proves why.
Watch This Title
After a retro, grainy intro, we are introduced to one of the two protagonists here, Xia Sha, a very beautiful young man, who is actually a thief working for a criminal organization, dreaming, though, to get her own passport and escape her fate. Zhang Niuyi is a private detective, who mostly deals with extramarital affairs, recording the “unfaithful” with his camera and sending the footage to his clients. His line of work is unsatisfactory, but occasionally he manages to record things he finds interesting, outside of his line of work, something that provides a sense of relief and pleasure from his mundane life. Xia Sha eventually manages to disappear and the group the employed her task Zhang to find her. A rather intense chase begins through the streets of the city but the surprises follow one another.
Evidently, Yiquan Chen has studied Wong Kar-Wai and Tsai Ming-Liang intently, with his narrative and visual style lingering between the two, but leaning more towards the former. The narration by the two protagonists, the film speed manipulation, the shaky camera, the occasional rapid succession of scenes, and the unlikely romance that takes place in an urban setting all point towards that direction, while the presence of clocks and the way time unfolds point towards the Taiwanese.
Despite the genre premises, the overall approach here is quite experimental, with Yiquan Chen using camera recordings, footage of every day life in the megalopolis, and a series of scenes that border on the surrealistic in order to tell his story. The way all the elements come together, however, with the help of a neo-noir atmosphere, the excellent editing and the quite fitting music is a testament to the filmmaker's prowess, who also manages to incorporate genre elements through a chase through the streets, a gunshot, and the finale, in an overall excellent effort.
Wang Yanbin as Zhang Niuyi and Zheng Liyi as Xia Sha give very fitting performances, in perfect resonance with the overall cinematic approach here, while their evident beauty also adds to the visual quality of the short. Particularly the latter in her red dress is an image that will stay on mind of every viewer.
“Summer Dream” is an excellent movie that showcases the level of quality short films can also reach.