Art Pushing Boundaries: Our Review of ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - April 20, 2019
Art Pushing Boundaries: Our Review of ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’

Cinema has always been intended to be experiential…but never quite like this.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night is a fever dream of obsession that takes us down a visual rabbit hole that not only evokes images of the likes of Wim Wenders and Wong Kar-Wai but pushes us past them at the same time.

This is the story of a lost soul, (Jue Huang) on a quest to find a missing woman from his past (Wei Tang). Following leads across Guizhou province, he crosses paths with a series of colorful characters, among them a prickly hairdresser played by Taiwanese superstar Sylvia Chang. When the search leads him to a dingy movie theater…that’s when things go to the next level.

While it’s an incredibly immersive and self-aware affair, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the kind of movie that encourages us as the viewer to simply allow it all to wash over us because plot and narrative are ultimately an afterthought and it wants us in the shoes of this very despondent yet charismatic character.

This long awaited follow up from writer/director Gan Bi certainly does pay a certain amount of visual reference to the likes of Wong Kar Wai and even the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, this one feels even riskier and that makes this film all the more interesting.  With very deliberate cinematography and shots that purposely linger inside some immaculately complex production design, we are set on a journey to gather up clues and get emotionally invested on this quest.  You can’t come into this film looking for a straight narrative or even complex character development; it’s actually all surprisingly simple from that standpoint.  This film is a decent into the dark corners of our protagonist Luo’s mind as he is just unable to shake the memory of this mysterious woman from his past.

When the film goes into its 59 Minute 3D continuous take all this comes to the forefront.  The film is quite simply less concerned with the destination then it is with the journey that is meant to take us on.  As we go through this films rain soaked streets, grimy back alleys and dangerous pools halls a line from the film really does some it all up excellently.

“The difference between film and memory…is that films are always false, but memories mix truth and lies as they appear and vanish before our eyes”

This film is an experience of memory realized on the screen and the actors lay it all exceptionally well.  Jue Huang plays it all in a bit of a haze which works so well on both a practical but grander level as well.  He is us in the middle of the dream, we have a clear goal in mind but the events on the periphery of it all play out in a distinctive haze like a desperate man which adds to the vibe of the entire film which all takes place at the edge of some kind of reality.  Wei Tang is simply fantastic as the object of his desires and the iconic Sylvia Chang adds some flavour to the proceedings.

Ultimately, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the kind of film that pushes the pure artistry of the cinematic form into some amazing places, and I for one can’t wait to see more.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night is playing now exclusively at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

  • Release Date: 4/19/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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