Striding Into the Wind
Kun (Zhou You) sits at the back of his film class giggling with his friend, more interested in his phone than what his professor has to say. While he’s a skilled sound recordist in his final year, he’d rather be driving around the streets of Beijing in an old, beat-up Jeep without a licence. The adults in his life keep telling him to settle down and conform, though the protagonist is more concerned about goofing around with his peers and daydreaming about traveling to Inner Mongolia.
Inspired by the real-life experience of director and co-writer Wei Shujun, Striding Into The Wind is a deliriously entertaining and wryly funny snapshot of contemporary youth in China. Surrounded by authoritarian figures, Kun and his cohorts do everything possible to make the most out of their freedom while they still can. This visually striking project in its elegance yet jocular idiosyncrasy marks a stellar debut from Shujun.
From the opening scene, in which viewers see Kun make a passionate exit from his driving test, the filmmaker imbues each sequence with a vibrant quality executed adeptly through the energetic performances of You and his co-stars. Every second the audience spends in the Jeep with the group as they speed down rural roads with the lights off or make a cross-country road trip is delightfully refreshing. Wholly down to earth in nature, the script captures the spirit of youth in a fashion other films envy.
Beautifully framed in long, static shots, the film emphasises Kun’s mischievous antics in the foreground while more serious conversations happen in the background. This directorial decision requires viewers to scan their eyes over scenes to find the conversation’s source. Aesthetically speaking, this subtle technique gives the visuals a distinctive style. But this small detail also works on a deeper level: it reminds onlookers that Kun physically distances himself from the wider world, preferring to remain in his own little bubble. Through the combination of subtle visual storytelling and a rambunctious cast, it becomes easy for one to lose themself in Kun’s story.
As the plot presses on, the final act decelerates as events gain a more serious tone. Though a necessity to tell the tale at hand, this conclusion does interrupt the inertia that’s been building to this climactic point. Thankfully, it is nowhere near enough to dampen the contagious energy within this fun-filled odyssey of youth.
Striding Into the Wind does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Striding Into the Wind here: