I'm of the thought that ghosts, at least as people describe them, are pretty much just a reflection of a human preoccupation with the past. Why else does the word "haunting" also describe a disturbing memory that simply won't go away?
Similarly, the characters of Zhou Yu's Train haunt each other. One way or another, they cling to people who really aren't there, even if they are there physically. Our principals are Zhou Yu, a ceramic painter who is endlessly riding the train to be with her boyfriend, Chen Ching. His hold over her is a poem, comparing her beauty with that of the lake Xan Hu. We are led to question whether he actually wrote the poem, whether he deserves her.
We also have Dr. Zhang, a veterinarian who takes an interest in Zhou Yu, and a mysterious woman who is tracing her path. Eventually we figure out why this foursome is so tied up with one another. The path we take to get there isn't all that linear either
The closest film I can think of to this - at this moment anyway - is Mulholland Dr. Not only is the emotional territory similar, but there are similar painterly compositions to David Lynch's work. And maybe the one thing that most brought up Lynch in my mind was the puzzlebox of the movie's plot, which left me a little confused, even after it ended. Unlike Mulholland Dr, I'm sure events will become clear on a second viewing. Once may even be enough for those without any language or cultural barriers.
There is a beauty here that is a little hard to crack - moments of stark images which resonate emotionally, but seem out of place plotwise. I found the handheld work distracting, even overused in the first half of the film, but thankfully the camera calms down. For me, once I understood the story, I could really appreciate it, but it took just a bit too long for me to get to that point.
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