What really seems to work it the strong contrast between the limited chances of the characters and the whole "World" that they work in. The film catches the illusions, paradoxes and dislocations of globalisation. Zhao Tao great as usual (but so is the cast as a whole). At the end one might think back to her opening calls for a band-aid, as if that would be enough to cover the social and personal damage that unfolds.
Friendship and romance backstage at the Beijing theme park THE WORLD. There's some good stuff here but it has difficulty emerging from the rather monotone presentation. The opening scene and protagonist Tao 's friendship with a Russian performer are the highlights.
Aesthetically, there's certain skill for long takes and tracking shots in "The World." It felt almost like a digital Scorsese in places, though it's Jia Zhangke's gift for framing that lends the film much of its grounded beauty. It's the patient characterization that wins you over, though. A gem.
I really really struggled to engage in this film. Although a few scenes were filled with quite some possibilities, I failed to really be pulled in by the characters and issues. I felt truly like I was watching a foreign film in the sense that I felt I was outside of the world in which this film made sense. The trailer caught my attention, and the concept appealing, but I was left lost wandering it's frames.
Free floating melancholia and prettiness mixed with unexpected bursts of whimsy and humor in a movie that attempts to make a big statement about The State of the World as unobtrusively and unpretentiously as possible given the aims. In other words, exactly my kind of thing, though the ending's a bit of a kick in the gut, and not in a good way.