Magazine article Screen International

'Looking for Lucky': Hong Kong Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Looking for Lucky': Hong Kong Review

Article excerpt

A shaggy dog story from first-time Chinese director Jiang Jiachen

Looking For Lucky

Dir/scr. Jiang Jiachen. China. 2018. 100 mins.

It may take its name from a lost canine, but Looking for Lucky could also be called “looking for luck” - it’s what the film’s protagonists, university graduate student Guangsheng (Ding Xinhe) and his dad (Yu Hai), desperately seek. Instead, they’re trapped in a dog-eat-dog cycle in northeastern China’s Shenyang city, dreaming of bigger and better things but thwarted by the prevailing attitude of ruthlessness and selfishness. For the feature’s first half, all they can do is search for the missing pooch, talk endlessly to each other and to anyone who could possibly help, and try to find their way out of a seemingly mundane situation with potentially life-changing ramifications.

A smart, witty, amusing and also endearing effort that could and should travel well

The debut of writer/director/editor Jiang Jiachen, Looking for Lucky doesn’t ask too much of its audience in immediately grasping the seriousness of Guangsheng’s plight. That something as commonplace as a wandering bulldog could genuinely derail his plans for the future is apparent in every interaction, and in the general disdain that constantly comes his way. Packaged with an obvious satirical air and coupled with the film’s naturalistic style - with the filmmaker compiling the feature out of 61 long takes - it’s a smart, witty, amusing and also endearing effort that could and should travel well.

Mentioned more than he’s seen, the titular Lucky belongs to Guangsheng’s professor, who the aspiring academic is trying to impress in order to obtain a reference for a faculty job. …

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