In Anthony Chen’s compelling Generation Z drama, an unusual love triangle develops among three friends against the icy beauty of northeast China and the Changbai Mountain.
The Breaking Ice
Honouring the young people of China and the masterpieces of the nouvelle vague, including Truffaut’s timeless Jules and Jim and Godard’s Band of Outsiders, the latest film by internationally renowned Singaporean auteur Anthony Chen is the tale of three hearts in winter.
Set in the city of Yanji on the border with the Korean Peninsula, against the majestic scenery of the Changbai Mountain, and in the coldest part of China’s northeast, the film uses the immaculate, icy beauty of the landscape as a powerful metaphor for the emotional chill imprisoning its protagonists.
Haofeng (Liu Haoran), a rich young man from Shanghai, travels to Yanji to attend a wedding. He suffers from severe depression, but when he sees Nana (Zhou Dongyu), a charming local tour guide, he can’t help but follow her. Nana is also fascinated by Haofeng and lets him into her private life, one of long nights washed away by too many drinks, spent together with Xiao (Qu Chuxiao), her best friend who works in a local restaurant. The complex relationship she has with Xiao is further complicated by the presence of Haofeng, but it gradually eases into an unusual love triangle. Driven by the need of all three to quench personal anxieties and stifle rampant melancholy, the friends become inseparable.
A free-spirited film that seems born out of impulse and visual suggestions, begun without a script, The Breaking Ice confirms Chen's extraordinary talent for creating stories of rare insight and characters of great dramatic presence, directed to perfection.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival