Free and Easy

Canadian Premiere
  • China
  • 2016
  • 99 mins
  • Mandarin
  • English (subtitles)
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WINNER: World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision, Sundance 2017

“Unexpectedly funny and dryly absurd” - Boyd van Hoeij, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

A winding road leads to a desolate factory town in the middle of nowhere, northeast China. Here, strangers cross paths. A salesman tries peddling his “magical soap,” but hides dishonest intentions. A Buddhist monk roams around, intent on spreading the faith… at a cost. A talentless kung-fu instructor files a police report with two bored cops, who begrudgingly begin investigating a clueless case, until their inability gets the best of them. Meanwhile, a ranger in charge of the area’s reforestation is faced with a tree thief, a murder happens, and the crooks soon collide in a farce of truly Beckettian proportions!

Winner of the Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision at this year’s Sundance film festival, Geng Jun’s FREE AND EASY definitely puts the “dead” firmly back in deadpan! Here’s an absurdist crime caper that slowly unravels as a tragi-comic farce; a revealing look at small-town existence, in the wake of rapid industrialization, as well as a mockery of the country’s many authority figures, seen here turning small-time crime on its head. No-good crooks, lazy cops, silly bureaucrats, and dubious monks steal the show, in a film where pettiness is ubiquitous, and daily life – or rather, survival – is rendered in all its (hilarious) inanity. Akin to something out of Jarmusch’s early filmography, or the Coens’ FARGO (had it been lensed by Wang Bing), FREE AND EASY turns China’s widescreen landscapes and architectural ruin into a stunning theatre of the absurd: the stage for – look no further – the most original crime film of the year.

- Ariel Esteban Cayer

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