Director Ning Hao sets out to show China’s absurdist side in his new film Breakup Buddies, about a cuckolded and messily-divorced man who hits the road in Southern China with his best friend and pet dog on a “hunt” for a new lady, or two or three or four. The raunchy romantic comedy, unusual for China’s heavily formulaic and censored genre, features a couple having sex in a car while grannies dance in the public square, as well as lesbian scenes and a copious amount of sex toys.
Appropriate fare for toddlers? Parents at a recent viewing seemed to think so.
Ning, who broke records with his low-budget indie 2006 film Crazy Stone, is known for his groundbreaking, absurdist style.”Modern China is very absurdist,” he told China Real Time, “so I like to apply absurdist qualities to my films.” The film uses the slapstick humor (literally, the trailer has a montage of the main character, played by Huang Bo, getting slapped repeatedly) to explore larger questions about happiness and life. Ning also added that while some critics believe he uses the absurdist style to slip sex scenes past the censors, he has always been interested in the genre as a way to navigate “the big questions,” citing Salvador Dali as one of his childhood heroes.
Although Chinese censorship is slowly being mollified, especially for domestic films, Breakup Buddies seems uncharacteristically raunchy and outrageous for the famously restrictive country.
Watch the movie trailer here:
By Briel Waxman
[Image via tiff.com]