Written & directed by Qiu Yang
Running Time 15 minutes
Starring Shuxian Li, Zhongwei Sun
Set in an un-named town in China, the film focuses on the worries of distraught mother Cai, whose daughter goes missing. Ignoring the her husband's call for patience, and the police's instructions to wait, Cai takes to the streets in search of her little girl.
Every parent has lived this fear on some level, of losing sight of their child in a busy city. For some it is a nightmare made real, a dread that writer/director Qiu Yang taps into by bringing this story, inspired by true events, horribly to life. Yang manages to capture the emotions of this very real horror by leaving all other characters in the background and focusing solely on Cai's ordeal.
In her debut film role, Chinese opera star Shixian Li, brilliantly conveys the visceral turmoil of Cai, a despondent and frightened mother with poise. The emotions are shown not through over the top teary eyed bawling but more of someone in an state of almost comatose immobility; we can't help but feel caught up in the drama with a little lump in the throat as we watch Cai slowly process the extreme emotions she feels. As the viewer one may find themselves wrapped in Cai's tumultuous, state of mind, thanks to Li's stoic and stirring performance, all the way to it's stomach churning climax.
"A Gentle Night" is an emotionally charged drama that every parent can relate to and many pray never happens to them. This award winning tale - it won the coveted Palme D'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival - maintains its tension throughout without coming up for air keeping the viewer emotionally locked in and invested till the end.