In Geng Jun’s Free and Easy, a desolate factory town of northeast China is the theater of action for various characters: a monk, a christian trying to spread the gospel, a crooked traveling salesman, a man in charge of reforestation, an adept of kung-fu with gentle mind, two cops with doubtful coherence, etc.

Geng Jun’s comedy is a slow paced and gentle absurdist farce. It reveals a gallery of sympathetic, if not colorful (in their own peculiar way) characters. Crooks are incompetent, cops are inept, masters and bureaucrats are amateurs. These characters come and go off screen to appear again later in constantly shifting ludicrous alliances. Behind the simplicity of the premises hides subtle ways of forging improbable and silly links between them. They are bored, loony and misplaced. A collection of genuine misfits.

The events, in Free and Easy, are delivered with the rhythm of a quiet river and filled with a tone of sadness  though it is a comedy. The location itself is a character. A village in a state of decay, in the middle of a wasteland. The silence is heavy, the color palette is grey and brownish.

Free and Easy is a simple but cleverly written, carefully crafted and  well acted film. It is a gentle piece of dark humor (with none of the usual excessive violence of such enterprises) in which patience is a virtue.

Good work Mr Jun.

Next Festival screening:
July 20 • 5:30 PM Salle J.A. De Sève