Have a Nice Day (" Hao Ji Le")

Canadian Premiere
  • China
  • 2017
  • 77 mins
  • Chinese
  • English (subtitles)
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Official Selection: Berlinale 2017, Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2017

“Urgent, thoroughly entertaining, and inventive… animation is seldom quite so bad-ass” - Rory O'Connor, THE FILM STAGE

“Stunning, provocative… a vibrantly witty piece of postmodern pop art” - Jonathan Romney, SCREEN DAILY

A sack full of bright red 100-yuan bills is like blood in the water for the losers and lowlifes in an unnamed southern Chinese city. Cash-strapped driver Xiao Zhang, whose fiancée desperately demands a plastic surgery do-over in South Korea, has robbed a mob flunky at knifepoint and fled without a trace — or so he imagines. Sadistic gang boss Uncle Liu takes time out from torturing a childhood friend to set the sinister fixer Skinny on Zhang’s trail. Soon enough, a crackpot inventor sporting functioning X-ray specs, his greedy girlfriend, and a tough-luck couple with dreams of relocating to Shangri-La (brought to life in a brilliant musical interlude bursting with colourful communist kitsch) are also angling for that bulging bag of dead chairmen. All in all, not the makings of a win-win situation…

A wry and sardonic slice of low-key neo-noir, Liu Jian’s second feature HAVE A NICE DAY is a bitter, bitingly funny counterpoint to the sugar-sweet family fare of China’s rising mainstream animation industry. Liu’s award-winning 2010 debut, PIERCING 1, marked him as China’s first world-class independent animator, and established an austere, understated visual style and caustic social commentary carried through to his latest. His seedy settings, meticulously hand-rendered in a sharp ligne–claire style, vividly capture a gritty, authentic China of the moment down to the tiniest detail. These Liu populates with distinct and memorable nobodies, striking hopeless bargains with fate as their nation’s furious leap forward leaves them coughing in the dust.

- Rupert Bottenberg

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