Film Review: LONG DAY’S JOUNEY INTO NIGHT (China 2018) ***

Long Day's Journey Into Night Poster

A man went back to Guizhou, found the tracks of a mysterious woman. He recalls the summer he spent with her twenty years ago.


Gan Bi


Gan Bi

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is the title of the famous Eugene O’Neill play that takes place in a day of family squabbling – the day being just like any other day in the life of that family.  There is nothing in common with director Ban Li’s film and the Eugene O’Neill play, except for the title and that the days are long and hard for the film’s protagonist.

The film has an hour long 3-D version, so be reminded to pick up the 3D glasses.  The 3-D sequence, which made the film more well-known occurs when Luo, the central character enters a movie theatre and puts on his 3-D glasses.   When this happens, Luo enters a different world where progress in life can be attained.

The movie plays an important part of the film.  Life is mixed with truths and lies but movies, as Luo mentions (in voiceover) is all fiction.

Bi’s film flits through dreams, reality and imagination, often with blurry images thought the past, present and dreams.  It is occasionally hard to follow as the main character Luo shifts through through different times and reality.  Bi’s film has a loose storyline in which nothing much happens. 

The story follows Luo, a n aimless drifter who moves around the Chinese city of Kaili (Director Gan Bi’s first film was called KAILI BLUES).  Different people cross paths with him.  There is the dead friend who likely got murdered for his gambling debt, the dead friend’s mother (a cameo appearance by Sylvia Chang), a dog, a boy (Hong-chi Lee) he plays ping pong with and a girl, Kaizhen who he chases.

The film’s blurred and saturated images immediately reminds one of the films by Wong Kar-wei. though not as good, since Wong often had Christopher Doyle to do his cinematography.

For strict cineastes who enjoy moody atmospheric films in which nothing much happens, LONG DAY’S JOUNEY INTO NIGHT will satisfy.

The film has a special limited engagement at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and other cinemas around the city.