FREE AND EASY – A Review By Gadi Elkon

Director Jen Geng's latest film, FREE AND EASY, premiered in the World Dramatic competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Friday.  Click through for our review of the film.

 

Under a tin-gray sky, in a hollowed out corner of northern China, a stranger arrives in town bearing magical soap—but smelling it will cost you. Nearby, a pair of unenthused cops try cracking a seemingly simple case. Or not. And you can forget religious solace; the only monk around is not what he seems.  FREE AND EASY SUNDANCE DESCRIPTION.

Free and Easy is an intriguing film that looks at a group of strangers and their interactions over a few days in a desolate northern Chinese town.  We start our tale with a traveling soap salesman who's soap packs quite a punch.  His tricky actions leads to a series of wild encounters that take him on a crazy journey.  Jun Geng's tale is captivating throughout since you're not quite sure what is actually going on.  With each encounter you get another sad person with a tricky profession or life story.  From a monk who's really a sad con man to a devout Christian who's lost his mother and a family of robbing bandits that use a a gold necklace as their ploy.  Overall the interactions are worth seeing the film.  The film's sad sap feeling reminds me of a Coen brothers weird town.  Imagine Fargo but in Northern China, and well without the wild murder mystery.  Though Free And Easy does involve a death! 

by Jun Geng, an official selection of the World Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Weihua Wang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The film's bleak location is a wonderful character in the film and constantly allows for the quirky characters to feel totally isolated.  The cold snow feel to the film allows also for some fun shots in the film.  Overall the constant sorrow feeling of the film isn't totally engulfing and the weird plot allows for a fast paced film.  The music in the film also has a lot of fun twists and turns including a cool Chinese rapper during the closing credits.  Jun Geng's direction and cinematographer Weihua Wan seem on point as their shots are always fluid and look beautiful even amongst the bleakness of the area.  Free and Easy is a film that holds a nice dark comedy feel set in a drastically depressing area.  The film continues to screen through the rest of this week.  Stay tuned for more fun information on the film's post Sundance life. 

 

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