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A win for sin?

Updated: 2013-05-24 09:03
By Li Xiang (China Daily)

A win for sin?

From top: Director Jia Zhangke (fourth from left) with several members of the cast of his new film A Touch of Sin in Cannes, France, and two scenes from the film. Gao Jing / Xinhua

A win for sin?

Chinese film about the dark side of modern life is getting all the buzz at France's high-profile film festival, Li Xiang reports in Cannes.

A win for sin?

'Tian Zhu Ding' screens in Cannes 

Anticipation is high for Chinese director Jia Zhangke's film A Touch of Sin in the competition for the Golden Palm at Cannes, as the film continues to spark discussion among viewers and critics over its controversial content that plunges people into the darker aspects of contemporary China. Jia's film is leading the competition and was given three stars out of four, the highest among all the competing films that have been shown in Cannes, by the festival's daily publication, Screen, last week. The film tells the stories of four individuals, based on recent true events that have been widely reported and hotly debated in Chinese media, especially on China's micro-blogging platforms.

Film critics who are familiar with Jia's previous works say that the film is a significant change of style as the violence and rage in the film are unprecedented.

In a straightforward and clear-cut cinematic language, the director presents the audience the brutal reality of life where violence has become the only and last resort for ordinary people to resolve their troubles in life.

The feeling of desperation is so overwhelming in the film that it makes people ponder what has gone wrong in a society that turns ordinary individuals into violent criminals.

Some commentators view the film as a dark and scathing portrait of the economic boom of China and a clash between the cities and the rural areas of the country.

"Part of the film depicts the emptiness of capitalism in modern China," says Jan Schulz-Ojala, a German film critic. "It is also about faith and immorality in a society that worships money and wealth."

But Schulz-Ojala says that as a foreigner he did find it difficult sometimes to relate to the characters. For example, the one played by Wang Baoqiang, who is detached from his family, wandering around the country and killing innocent people for cash without blinking an eye.

Special: 66th Cannes Film Festival

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