"As the only Chinese film selected for the official competition section at the Cannes Film Festival that opened Wednesday, Chongqing Blues (Rizhao Chongqing) is based on the story of a father reaching salvation in search of his missing son as he journeys from Rizhao in Shandong Province to Chongqing." Mao Renjie introduces an interview: "One day before the crew took off for the festival in France, director Wang Xiaoshuai and leading actor Qin Hao spoke with the Global Times about the film and the local film industry."
"Even though upgraded to Competition from its original place in Un Certain Regard, Chongqing Blues represents no notable artistic leap in Sixth Generation filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai's repertoire," writes Maggie Lee in the Hollywood Reporter. "It may be solidly directed with Bressonian detachment and anchored by an absorbing performance by lead actor Wang Xueqi, but it is neither outstanding nor revelatory enough to play outside of a cluster of European art house cinemas."
But for THR's Kirk Honeycutt, "Besides being a finely wrought drama about a grieving father struggling to comprehend the events and reasons leading up to a tragedy involving his son, Chongqing Blues portrays the port city of Chongqing as a place undergoing an urban upheaval that leaves its youth to become expert slackers and perhaps frays familial bonds."
"As a film about fathers and sons, Chongqing Blues has some resonance," finds Lee Marshall in Screen. "The film is also chock-full of images of passage and change: the river that flows down to the sea where two key scenes are set; the rusty cable car that connects port and town; shopping mall escalators, monorails, motorway ramps and bridges: all connect with the constant movement that is Quanhai's [Wang Xueqi] career, and also, until he begins questioning it, his life strategy. But the slight, mushy story, and the overly pretty actors cast in the three main youth roles, are not really up to the task of carrying what would otherwise be a stimulating symbolic load."
For Time Out London's Dave Calhoun, "the real interest is not in discovering what happened... but in exploring the film's themes of disconnection and reconnection between people and places, and people and those they've known and loved. In the background, too, are ideas about the generation gap in China and a sense of some being left behind by the country's rapid development."
Claire Rosemberg reports on the press conference for the AFP.
"With barely a false note, and a quietly absorbing lead performance from Wang, this is a slow-burning gem," writes Sukhdev Sandhu in the Telegraph.
Page at Cannes.
Updates, 5/14: "Wang's film was fortunate to make the UCR cut, much less the big show," finds Guy Lodge at In Contention: "Drab, maudlin and never content to let one scene make a point when three will do."
"Moodily drenched in a depressed pall by the low clouds that perpetually envelop the titular city," blogs Todd McCarthy, "this is a low-key work with a diverting gallery of supporting characters but an ending seemingly contrived to provide a tad of uplift to a tale that otherwise offers little emotional catharsis."
See, too, Daniel Kasman's favorite moments from the first two days of the festival.
"Between Chongqing Blues and 2001's Beijing Bicycle, the only other film of his I've seen, I think it's fair to dismiss Wang Xiaoshuai as a world-cinema poser and move on," writes Matt Noller at the House Next Door. "Ostensibly a naturalistic bit of cinema verité, Chongqing Blues is in actuality an unwieldy barge of clichés, heavy-handed symbols, and clumsy, inconsistent formal choices."
Cannes 2010: Coverage of the coverage index.