a hunt for the serial killer filmed like a grandiose and stylized opera

Cya Liu in


Limbo is a film that has made a strong impression at the festivals where it has been presented, notably that of the detective film Reims Polar, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Critics’ Prize. No doubt because the conventions of the thriller are enhanced by intense formal work transforming this hunt for the serial killer into a grandiose and stylized opera. Two cops set out to track down an in who chops off his victims’ hands using a young delinquent as bait. The choice of black and white, the light, the way in which the plans are overloaded, the creation of sordid and monumental decorations (giant public dumps, slums, etc.) testify to a virtuosity quite rare in the genre, just as much as a desire for the director Soi Cheang, who already has nearly twenty feature films to his credit, to truly sign what, on paper, only seemed to be routine.

But these qualities are also faults. How to articulate a nihilistic discourse with such an explicit will to art? How to borrow from the cinema of exploitation its most primary affects and coat them in shots of a millimeter composition? How to marry the clean and the dirty? Trash and clean? It is this blindness in the face of insoluble contradictions that risks making Limbo one of the most overrated films of the moment.

Hong Kong film by Soi Cheang (1 h 58). With Ka Tung Lam, Yase Liu.

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