Kaili Blues is a gorgeous film that interlaces realism and fantasy with the same grace as a Gabriel García Márquez novel. The film is the feature debut of Bi Gan, a Chinese director born in Kaili, Guizhou, and it certainly announces him as a burgeoning talent.
The story has a wandering and quixotic nature to it, a kind of languid magical realism that suggests far more than it dictates. On the surface, the story is about a doctor searching for his nephew. But during the journey, strange things start to happen, and it is no longer clear that time is even following the normal rules. The resulting “narrative” is part surreal, part harsh reality, and altogether up for interpretation. There’s a dreamlike quality to the events, and though the inclusion of some of Bi Gan’s own poetry lends a kind of road map to the interpretation, this is altogether a film which is more meant to be felt than to be reasoned through.
Bi Gan’s camerawork is one of the more impressive aspects of the film. There are long, fluid shots, including a titanic 41-minute sequence without a single cut. The Chinese countryside also produces some pristine scenery which leads to beautiful cinematography. Kaili Blues is a truly gorgeous film, with a spellbinding mixture of reality and fantasy.