Review: Angels Wear White is a sensitive drama about rape and corruption

Chinese filmmaker Vivian Qu's second feature is anchored by two strong performances

ANGELS WEAR WHITE (Vivian Qu). 107 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (July 27). See listing. Rating: NNNN

Angels Wear White is anchored by two strong performances. Wen Qi and Zhou Meijun play Mia and Wen, young girls who do their best to keep quiet and stay strong in a culture that victimizes them over and over again based on class and sex.

That Mia’s silence only makes things worse for Wen is a key design in writer and director Vivian Qu’s critical look at patriarchal structures in China and the way it manipulates women to turn on themselves.

Wen and her friend Xin (Jiang Xinyue) are raped at a coastal hotel by a trusted commissioner with deep ties to their families and the state. Mia, a hotel employee with legal status issues, is the sole witness. She spies some incriminating behaviour on security camera but refuses to own up to it because speaking up puts her own livelihood at risk.

Qu rarely veers away from one girl or the other, a smart and sensitive decision to witness and digest the world from that perspective. What they’re exposed to is corruption and collusion, victim-blaming and competing societal messages that worship virginity while exploiting female sexuality. | @JustSayRad

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