LU MAO TZE (THE GREEN HAT) (Liu Fendou) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Zadie Smith once compared her first novel, White Teeth, to a "hyperactive, ginger-haired tap-dancing 10-year-old."
You could say the same about Liu Fendou's flashy, audacious, thoroughly likeable first feature film, Lu Mao Tze (The Green Hat), which has its Toronto premiere at this week's Reel World Festival.
It opens with a man on a beach telling a joke about a movie that opens with a man on a beach. For the first several scenes, it's a fast-paced, stylish heist flick with insouciant young bank robbers in 80s wigs. It's got such wit and restraint that, during the violent parts, the camera stays fixed on the reactions of a monkey and a puppy.
A third of the way through, after providing one of the more spectacular definitions of love ever committed to film, it kills off the main character, replaces him and seamlessly morphs into a darkly funny reflection on male sexual dysfunction.
Gimmicky? Well, yeah. But Liu earns every second of it, tackling his core themes of male bravado and sexual betrayal with consistency, subtle humour and sheer smartass virtuosity. Bravo. (Reelworld Film Festival, April 16, at the Rainbow Cinemas)