Holland, 2008, 100 min
Direction: David Verbeek
Cast: Tygo Gernandt, Tian Yuan, Lu Yulai, Cheng Haofeng
Selection: Exit Point
Shanghai Trance is an interesting portrait of Shanghai in 2006, made by Holland director David Verbeek. It is told in three stories, each of them exploring another social context of the city, through lives of the characters.
The characters are form 20 to 30 years old, and they represent the lifestyle of their generation. The thing in common to the shown stories is the image of the generation and the topic of an interrelationship between young people. What they expect from themselves and their lives, from their partners, if they can truly reach to each other in the path of accomplishing successful relationships based primarily on trust, are only some of the questions which the characters try to answer. Shanghai Trance is actually an intimate picture of a young, urban generation, which, griped by the chaotic city life and the speed of their maturing, does not manage to keep up with the speed of change that a big city inevitably brings with it.
In the first story, a twenty-five-year-old man, Xu Yu, extremely smart, but of low social status, does not manage to get a stable office job, which is quite unfortunate to his family. But he is not much concerned with the fact. His thoughts are occupied by a twenty-year-old girl with fancy nickname, “Apple”. They grew up together with stories told by her grandmother, the stories about China, which long ago was a land of magic and mystery. They used to fantasize about ancient times, or spend time in a local internet café enjoying in Xu Yu’s 3-D animations. However, she goes to university, joins higher social circles, and keeps up with the speed of new city opportunities, unlike Xu Yu, who goes contrary to the way that the city life imposes…
The second story is about a twenty-two-year-old Jenny and her boyfriend Calvin, who works as a DJ in a popular club. They live by night, go to parties, and have fun all the time. However, in a moment, they realize that the fact that this way of life is only temporary. This “awakening” starts to affect them. They change, which seriously influences their relationship…
The third story tells about the complicated life of Zhang Yi. Elegant and beautiful, she is 29, and lives with her parents who are very old-fashioned. She wants more from life, so she agrees on double games. She has a rich older lover, but Jochum, a young architect who has recently moved from Holland, starts to draws her attention.
Apart from the characters with interesting life stories, at the end of three intimate portraits, a unique character comes to the main attention – the city itself, a contemporary metropolis. Finally, the context of the movie becomes the main text, which, through three told levels, asks the initial question: Who or what is Shanghai actually?