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film review

Title: Angels Wear White

Written and directed by: Vivian Qu

Starring: Wen Qi

Classification: N/A; 107 minutes


3 out of 4 stars
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A scene from the movie Angels Wear White

In an intriguing film noir full of white light reflecting off virginal dresses, polished surfaces and sparkling sand, director Vivian Qu probes the status of girls in Chinese society. A powerful older man inveigles two schoolgirls into a room at a seaside hotel where, the viewer assumes, they are assaulted. The only witness is the hotel clerk, Mia, a 15-year-old migrant without papers who is covering for an older employee when she catches the action on a security video. Almost as defenceless as the victims themselves, she won’t co-operate with the investigation, but proves surprisingly activist in other ways. Some scenes, especially between the girls and their parents, descend into melodrama and expose the young actors’ narrow range, but Wen Qi is sprightly as the entrepreneurial Mia, working the system that oppresses her. Qu’s symbolism, including a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe in her provocative Seven Year Itch pose presiding over an empty beachfront playground, is big, bold and impressively cinematic, thanks also to cinematographer Benoît Dervaux.

Angels Wear White opens July 27 in Toronto

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