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TIFF Review: The Crossing

A working class 16-year old girl resorts to smuggling to finance going on vacation with her wealthy classmate.

Peipei travels daily from China to attend high school in Hong Kong where her best friend tells her about plans to go to Japan for vacation.   The teenager determined to pay her own way becomes a waitress.  An encounter with some partygoers and a situation that subsequently unfolds at the border crossing has Peipei enter into the world of smuggling.

Everything is messy as in life except for one moment that seems a little too convenient for story purposes.  It is nice to see that the father of Peipei was not negligent and uncaring while the mother was more stereotypical in being drunk and self-centred.   The high school friendship felt natural and the smuggling organization is filled with some interesting characters.  Not too sure what Apple will think about strapping illegal iPhones onto the body serving as a romance scene but it deserves full marks for getting the point across without having to resort to sex.

A surprise action with a gun shatters the good time atmosphere by heightening the ruthlessness and violent business of smuggling. There are actions and consequences which filmmaker Bai Xue wisely recognizes in her feature directional debut.  Freeze frames that highlight turning points in the narrative are novel but unnecessary. Huang Yao portrays Peipei with the right balance of naivety and determination making the audience care about what happens to her when things start to go wrong.  The cinematography by Piao Songri combined with the production and costume design by Cheung Siu Hong to create a visually stunning environment.

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Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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