- 2h 3m
A group of filmmakers are gathered in a dark and windy night for preparation of shooting a film based on a sensational murder case. It's unrealized that they are placed in the real crime sce... Read allA group of filmmakers are gathered in a dark and windy night for preparation of shooting a film based on a sensational murder case. It's unrealized that they are placed in the real crime scene and the true murderer is among them.A group of filmmakers are gathered in a dark and windy night for preparation of shooting a film based on a sensational murder case. It's unrealized that they are placed in the real crime scene and the true murderer is among them.
This movie convinces on numerous levels. First of all, the fluid genre shifts are truly interesting as viewers never know what to expect next and are kept on the edges of their seats until the very last scene. The movie sometimes evolves from slapstick situation comedy over dramatic discussions to creepy thriller sequences within a few minutes. This rollercoaster ride might be unconventional but is certainly very entertaining. It's great to see that directors, producers and scriptwriters are still willing to think outside the box and experiment with unusual genre combinations.
Another strong element of this film is its location. Except for the opening and the closing scene, the entire movie takes place in a lush building that has an elegant yet gloomy atmosphere. Investigative discussions in the living room, emotionally charged dancing sequences in the ballroom, heated arguments in the staircase, tense conflicts in the private quarters and claustrophobic discoveries in air ducts ensue.
The plot itself is a mixed bag. It asks for a complete suspension of disbelief since it expects us to believe that a movie producer is able to get a criminal on death row involved in a film project and is also able to walk around freely at a recent crime scene without any surveillance. The twists and turns that the story takes are certainly intriguing but also quite far-fetched. The entertainment is certainly present but the numerous ideas are often over the top.
The acting performances and character developments are also a mixed bag. Aggressive, energetic and negative scriptwriter and former journalist Li Jiahui who is incarnated by a brilliant Zheng Yin is a complex, intriguing and unusual protagonist that blends in perfectly in this quirky movie with its exaggerated plot. Qi Leshan who is played by Zhang Benyu impresses as mysterious criminal with a flexible, intellectual and spontaneous side that becomes more profound with every single scene. On the other side, arrogant, eccentric and moody producer Zheng Qianli who is incarnated by Yu Entai is particularly annoying with his repetitive narcissistic swagger. Su Mengdie is played by Deng Jiajia and turns out to be a shallow character who either feels arrogant or insulted in the movie and only seems to be present to show some elegant feminine looks that don't add anything at all to the movie.
Let's finish on a positive note however. As producer Zheng Qianli remarks in this film, it's recommended not to mix arts and politics unless there is a reasonable purpose. This movie avoids to praise or insult any political agenda which is a refreshing change from many other Chinese movies that often add weird twists and turns to praise specific ideologies, parties and politicians. There is some social commentary here that criticizes how the rich and famous exploit the poor and ambitious. The fact that governmental forces try to hide a conspiracy might be seen as a minor political element but the movie avoids pointing fingers and lecturing the viewers. To be honest, these minor political and social comments are actually the most realistic elements in this experimental movie and have an honourable purpose.
At the end of the day, Be Somebody is a good Chinese mystery film with quirkily humorous and grippingly tense elements. The film has a few very good aspects such as some characters, parts of the plot and the settings. However, there are also a few inconsistencies such as some wooden acting performances, a few unimpressive characters and a few too many exaggerated twists. Fans of Chinese dramas and thrillers with historic contexts should give this film a try.
- Dec 15, 2021