IFFR Review: Bipolar

Dating back to Greek antiquity, the myth of Orpheus has captivated generations of writers and creatives. As one of the only heroes to visit the underworld and return to tell his tale, he’s part of a small and distinguished group. His stories have inspired filmmakers, most notably Marcel Camus for Black Orpheus and Jean Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy. In Bipolar, her debut feature, Queena Li puts a livewire spin on the legend.

A young woman (Leah Dou) arrives in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. She is running from something but it’s not clear what or why. She claims to be on a pilgrimage when in reality she’s struggling to deal with a loss. Whatever plans she had suddenly change after encountering a ‘holy sacred rainbow lobster’ which is on display in her hotel. She liberates it from its tiny tank and the pair head-off on a road trip. The plan is to release it into the waters where in thrives, in the light of the Ming Island lighthouse.

Bipolar is a kinetic and imaginative portrait of a young woman trying to understand her grief in the only way possible, by saving the life of a large marine crustacean. Li unleashes a bag of tricks and metaphors as she spins her tale. Shot in striking black and white, using strange dream sequences and introducing a menagerie of colourful characters, we’re treated to a wealth of ideas and creative thinking. It doesn’t all mesh but in Bipolar we have the promise of an exciting new cinematic voice.

Bipolar screens at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Previous IFFR Review: Aristocrats
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