Partners in Crime
Directed by Chang Jung-Chi
On his way to school, Huang witnesses the death of Hsia, a popular teenager in their high school,along with Lin and Yeh, the other 2 students from their high school, whom Huang has never known before. Even though the three guys try to save her, she is now gone forever. Her dead body lies in front of them, and this shocking image ties their fates together, and this twisted fate is going to change their high school lives forever... Because of all different reasons, Huang, Yeh, and Lin start their own investigations in order to find out the truth for Hsia’s death.
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★★★½ review by JC on Letterboxd
Here was my stab-in-the-dark selection for the festival - a Taiwanese director I'd never come across with an interesting premise, and screenshots on the TIFF website to solidify my pick [I was going back and forth between this and the Korean film Gyeongju].
As the poster lays out, three high-school friends discover the death of a female classmate as she lies blood-soaked in an alleyway - appearing to have fallen from an apartment balcony. Was it a suicide? Did someone push her off? What brought her to this moment? One of the kids claims she was still alive before breathing her last breath. The film then takes you into the world of these kids and the effects around the school as the mystery unravels.
The opening credits set the stage stylistically with some sharp cuts and plenty of foreshadowing into what we may see later on. Water is a strong visual throughout with much of the film set in the rain. Director Chang Jung-chi mentioned in his Q&A that kids are more likely to walk in the rain without care for an umbrella, and the viewer will look at a scene differently (almost more dream-like) when rain is coming down. Along with the rain and puddles are more bright colourful cues in the way of neon-lit arcade machines, city streetlights and shops, and various lamps and indoor lights. For me, it created a feeling of hyper-real or sensationalism, almost like a noir for school kids - an entirely different approach to the more obvious noir references in Rian Johnson's Brick.
This was ultimately more a crime film than direct noir, but the weaving plot may consider a hybrid of sorts. I'd even argue the story gets away from itself towards the end, but nonetheless an engaging and intriguing story. Each of these three kids have their own spin and their own motives on how they handle things following her death, and the film does well in never losing the audience in all the details. Without getting into any spoilers, I felt the film ended on a bit of a whimper especially compared to the events leading up.
I liked the film, almost giving it a 4* rating, and Chang Jung-chi is certainly now on my radar and can't wait to see what he does next. His previous film, Touch of the Light is one I will try and seek out. This had the overall feeling of almost a great film, but just slightly out of reach. Still, worth the watch!
★★★★ review by randomahjussi on Letterboxd
En la estantería al ladito de World of Kanako. Otro paso adelante más para su director.
★★★½ review by SachiiSez on Letterboxd
I felt this was a better picked for the Next-Gen crowd than Wonderful World End. Even with the shadow of suicide, the real events of bullying and loneliness, it manages to be a well executed friendship-mystery mash-up. The mystery side probably won't be predictable for Next-Gen audiences even though it was for me. Downside was the CGI, which was just a little too CG for my liking.
*Seen at the Next-Gen Program at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)
★★★★ review by Colin Huang on Letterboxd
Intricately written, delicately directed. A slow paced film starting with a tragedy and leading into another with only a hint that 1 character might get a sort of happy ending.
A very matured film about the immaturity and naivety of high school kids.
★★★★ review by One Room With A View on Letterboxd
Jung-Chi Chang explores the hidden personal detachments sown throughout Taiwanese culture in this atmospheric high school thriller, which quickly sets pace on a merry ghost hunt.
We are launched into the technological connections of youth as classmates blog to find the murderer; whilst our trio break into Wei-chiao’s old apartment to sneak through her underwear, diary and seedily strip her computer for clues.
Every scene is poignant whilst sown throughout are the seeds of teenage discomfort. The action gets increasingly frantic and the group’s social stalking is a frank contrast with the technological detachment that other teens around them face.
The biggest reflective element of Partners in Crime are the comments about society in Taiwan that show a true element of disconnection in the Teenage culture, a disconnection that ironically they try to plug with social media and faking digital friendships or personalities.
Read more: oneroomwithaview.com/2014/11/29/partners-crime-review/#ixzz3Nl8JXKLV
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