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Are You Lonesome Tonight?

The weather always determines the atmosphere here, and it‘s no coincidence that the (anti-) hero in this stylistic debut about guilt and memories repairs air-conditioners.


ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT? is the poetic and unconventional debut of Chinese director Win Shipei. Wen‘s film is a noir thriller, but Wen seems to be following other inspiration than, for example, Diao Yi‘nan, whose films BLACK COAL, THIN ICE and THE WILD GOOSE LAKE are noir tales that are relatively similar to the US films of the 30s to 50s: with femme fatales, lost heros, and a social realist backdrop

Wen Shipei‘s dreamy narrative doesn‘t reference American noir as much as the French poetic realism of Marcel Carné and Max Ophüls and the existential dramas of Robert Bresson. The spaces are misaligned and labyrinthian, the light is often extremely colorful. Even the ugliest real places have charm in the camera images. The weather always determines the atmosphere here, the heat, the muggy rain. It‘s no coincidence that the (anti) hero Xueming (Eddie Peng) repairs air-conditioners. The damp heat acts as an emotional incubator, the rain lets the tired souls bubble over. The original Chinese title literally means “Once Upon A Time in the Tropics.“

Xueming narrates what happened from prison: he ran over a man one night who suddenly appeared before his truck when he was lighting a cigarette. Xueming flees after the accident, but he can‘t let go of his feelings of guilt. He wants to turn himself in, but at the police station he is overwhelmed by the aggressive atmosphere. When he accidentally bumps into Mrs. Liang, the victim‘s widow, he wants to confess to her, but he soon finds out that there‘s more to the story and that Mr. Liang wasn‘t some innocent victim. A suitcase full of money plays a role and figures appear that chase after Xueming like ghosts.

ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT? is one of the most astounding debuts in recent years, with its very own rhythm and a stunning sense for hypnotic images. We can expect great things to come from Wen Shipei.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Re dai wang shi
China 2021, 95 min
Language: Chinese
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Wen Shipei
Author: Noé Dodson, Yinuo Wang, Shipei Wen, Binghao Zhao
DOP: Cedric Cheung-Lau, Xiaosu Han, Zhang Heng, Andreas Thalhammer
Montage: Hangchen Cao, Noé Dodson, Jie Dong, Will Wei, Lin Zhu
Music: Hank Lee
Distributor: rapid eye movies
Cast: Eddie Peng, Sylvia Chang, Yanhui Wang, Peiyao Jiang, Yu Zhang
FSK: 16
Release: 27.01.2022




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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