Festival Review: Crosscurrent (2015)


An ambitious portrait of modern China, Yang Chao’s Crosscurrent is a poetic knot of yearning, mourning and the shifting sands of time.

Upstream Colour

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

The spiritual journey of one man sailing the Yangtse River upstream from Shanghai on the East China Sea to its source, Crosscurrent is an enigmatic tale of yearning and mourning. Following the death of his father, Gao Chun (Qin Hao) captures a black fish to keep in an urn – the time of his unfed existence marking the period that his father’s spirit remains on earth and the time of grief. But as he finds a book of poetry written by a sailor sailing the same route upriver, he follows the preordained stations, becoming intertwined with An Lu (Xin Zhi Lei) as she makes her way overland. Their relationship is as tentative as the river and its banks and Gao Chun realises as he is sailing forwards, she is moving backwards, like ships passing in the night. Despite a haunting and often mesmerising industrial murk, Crosscurrent with its impenetrable blend of omniscient voiceover, a rather ludicrous plot of dubious cargo and revenge stabbing, and poetic licence, is undoubtedly ambitious. But with all the pace of slowly shifting sands, Yang Chao’s film remains a confounding mystery and feels disappointingly like an upstream struggle.

Crosscurrent is now showing at the 66th Berlin Film Festival

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