During 1999 in China, the police discover a grisly set of murders where various body parts have been spread throughout the providence. In an attempt to capture the alleged murder, two police officers are killed, with Zhang Zii, the surivving officer, being suspended from duty. Five years later, Zhang works security for a factory, living the life of a drunkard, with seemingly nothing to live for. When a new series of murders occurs, Zhang believes they are related to the 1999 unsolved case, leading him back into the investigation. With the help of an old colleague, Zhang discovers that all the victims of the murders are in someway connected to Wu Zhizhen, a young woman who works at a dry cleaners. As Zhang digs deeper and deeper into the case, he begins observing Wu, slowly falling in love with her. Yi'nan Diao's Black Coal, Thin Ice is a narrative homage to the great detective noirs of the 40s and 50s, using the genre's strengths to craft a poignant study of love and loneliness. Subtle in approach, Yi'nan captures how the detective, Zhang, and the femme fatale, Wui, are incredibly lonely individuals inside, each yearning for something to warm up their cold insides. Black Coal, Thin Ice is a film that effectively blurs the lines between guilt and innoence, delivering an extremely well crafted film that doesn't waste a compositon in telling its tale. Using the detective story, Yi'nan's color drained noirish thriller is an engaging film, capturing the absolute power love is capable of, while decontructing the blurred lines between innocence and guilt.
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