Celebrating the classics of Asian cinema and beyond, Restored is a regular series showcasing Asian films that have been meticulously preserved and restored by different institutions from across the world. The platform revisits these classics in a new light and allows them to be appreciated by new generations of audiences.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN PREMIERE
Original title: 苏州河
Director: Lou Ye
Runtime: 80 minutes
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles
Rotterdam International Film Festival 2000
Tokyo FILMeX 2000
BEST ACTRESS (ZHOU XUN), GRAND PRIX
Paris Film Festival 2000
Set along the filth and fog of Shanghai’s waterways likened to the River Styx, Lou Ye’s puzzle-like film builds a haunting tale that is equal parts tragic romance, diary-film, film noir and supernatural fantasy. A kaleidoscopic doomed romance begins when a voyeuristic videographer is hired by a nightclub to film a performing mermaid, Meimei (Zhou Xun). As they get closer, a story-within-story unfolds—of romance between motorcycle courier Mardar (Jia Hongsheng), and his boss’ daughter Moudan (Zhou Xun in a dual role). The relationship of Mardar and Moudan evolves into a complex gangster tragedy—told with flashbacks, jolting shifts in dramatic perspective and Mardar’s relentless search for Moudan when she disappears.
Shot on Super 16 film and now in a gorgeously grainy new restoration, this trademark film of the Sixth Generation catapulted Chinese cinema into the next millennium as a rustic, radically sublime take on female duplicity and Hitchcockian obsession. Originally banned for its rebellious spirit—Lou screened it internationally without State permission—Suzhou River still crackles with the same defiant, expressive cinematic fire decades later.
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