Life After The Crime: Our Review of ‘Angels Wear White’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 26, 2018
Life After The Crime: Our Review of ‘Angels Wear White’

Rape culture is prevalent and makes its victims lives more complicated than they already are. Audiences can see that in Angels Wear White, Vivian Qu’s new movie. It’s about the sexual assault of two  school children in a seaside Chinese town. These two girls are Wen (Zhou Meijun) and Xin (Jiang Xinyue), both are twelve years old. And they must endure a few too many physical exams to prove the veracity behind their statements.

Angels Wear White shows a lot of nuance. The legals system experiences the polar forces of people who want to reveal the truth. That despite not knowing how to pull it out of the victims. And then there are those who would rather hide what happened. Qu, who both directed and wrote the script, downplays the motivations and aggression between both sides. This aggression makes Wen clam up when it comes to the details.

Qu drives the point home by showing the crime’s effects on Wen outside the incompetent investigation on her case. Her mother (Liu Weiwei) cuts off her hair to make her look more like a schoolgirl. Wen lives under a complex family life. So she decides to leave her mother and legal guardian. She occasionally roams her town and its attractions. But she eventually moves in with her absentee father Meng Tao (Le Geng).

The movie pays a lot of attention to Wen, which is fine, and Zhou also plays her character well. The film really begins with the perspective of the crime’s only and partial witness. She’s teenager and hotel worker Mia (Wen Qi). Qu scatters pieces to her story but stops short of fleshing it all out. Mia juggles her secrets while dealing with her relationship with an older coworker, Lily, who’s more mature than Mia.

There’s also the theme concerning these female characters’ relationship with their homes. Lily wants to return to hers, since being adjacent to the crime proves too much for her. She also deals with her own experience of sexual assault. She sees this as a problem that she decides to fix in her own unconventional way. The movie, again, doesn’t fully deal with Mia’s relationship with her home, and the ambiguity concerning this feels unsatisfying.

Nonetheless, Qu is good at exploring the dichotomies that these characters find themselves in. Women versus men, victims versus the system. The locals and the surreal theme park town that is yet to open for tourist. The town, which she doesn’t explicitly name, is a good backdrop for these characters’ arcs. They’re living in a town that surprises itself when they discover its beauty and ugliness. It makes them strive for what they deserve.

Angels Wear White opens on July 27 at TIFF. For showtimes and tickets go to

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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