‘No. 7 Cherry Lane’ Review: A Heady Daydream in 1967 Hong Kong

As luxurious as it’s odd, “No. 7 Cherry Lane” is an train in harnessing nostalgia for innovation. The first animated movie from the director Yonfan is a deeply eccentric chronicle of a forbidden affair in 1960s Hong Kong, because the spirit of Mao Zedong’s anti-imperialist, communist revolution arrives in what was nonetheless a British colony. Fan Ziming, a beguiling English literature pupil, turns into embroiled in a knotty love triangle between Mrs. Yu, a divorced Taiwanese exile and former revolutionary who now offers in luxurious items, and her daughter Meiling, a nubile 18-year-old pupil taking English classes from Ziming.

At instances, “No. 7 Cherry Lane” unfolds as a hallucinatory daydream, flowing with starry-eyed voice-over narration: “Look how the golden years flowed away,” reads the opening title card, because the narrator describes the time as an “era of prosperity amidst simplicity.” The Hong Kong of 1967 is rendered in wealthy element by way of pencil on rice paper, with radiant coloration blooming onscreen, illustrations of bustling streets and film theaters constituting the movie’s universe. There are cerebral, erudite dialogues about Proust, French artwork movies and basic Chinese literature that drive the liaisons at its heart. The animation is usually slow-moving — figures shuffle stiffly throughout the display screen as they muse about artwork and philosophy, a alternative which will problem viewers accustomed to extra fluid gestures. But the method contributes to the movie’s thematic dedication to nostalgia and provides a quiet class and slow-paced intimacy to every scene.

Fortunately, “No. 7 Cherry Lane” transcends pure wistfulness or mental indulgence. The movie embraces a beautiful surreal sensibility that bleeds by way of all of its particulars: puffs of smoke wafting off a theater display screen into the characters’ world; a clowder of cats explaining Hong Kong’s floor-numbering practices; effervescent, jarring synth pop soundtracking the height of a violent protest. These particulars appear minor, however they infuse an in any other case heady movie with coronary heart and levity. The film’s weird and sexually specific dream sequences, which embrace the kidnapping of a Taoist nun and Ziming being pleasured by a cat, additional illustrate the movie’s enigmatic high quality — however in addition they stop it from changing into a easy journey down reminiscence lane. Consider this movie a grasp class in world-building, a bewildering however poignant dream — one that can go away you with loads of burning questions.

No. 7 Cherry Lane
Not rated. In Mandarin, Cantonese, French and Shanghainese, with subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes. Watch on Criterion Channel.