Over the next few weeks, our writer in Melbourne, Sean W. Fallon, will be covering the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and reviewing some of his favourite movies from the festival.
Overview: A drug courier travels in the taxi of an unlucky cab driver. 3 Ng Film; 2016; Rated-R; 111 mins
Lost: Godspeed is a very odd movie. Not much happens in it, it jumps around in time, the narrative POV shifts from character to character, and by the end the viewer is left with the sense that either they’ve just watched a movie about something that is just out of reach or that they’ve just wasted two hours of their time. I was inclined to think the latter. Godspeed is a movie that keeps promising to start then never does. It introduces characters with lengthy openings or flashbacks and then struggles to find anything to do with them. The three leads aren’t compelling enough to take control of the movie so we’re left wondering whose story this is and once the movie had ended I didn’t feel as though I was any closer to an answer.
The plot, after a kind of cold opening in Thailand, follows Nadow, a young thief who becomes a courier for a clean cut gangster who seems to be a mix of pragmatic and superstitious (though this never really reaps dividends). During one of his deliveries Nadow ends up in the taxi of Xu, a down on his luck cab driver, and I would like to say hijinks ensue but that wouldn’t be completely true as, while they do get into a few scraps, a lot of their time is spent bickering and discussing money. By the time the ending rolls around, the emotional scenes before the credits don’t feel earned because we never get to connect to the characters enough. We get some sad stories from Xu but its this telling as oppose to showing that hurts the movie.
Chat: A majority of the scenes of the movie are just two characters sitting and talking in that sub-Tarantino way in which the conversation dawdles and drags out. Tarantino has such an ear for dialogue that he is able to craft incredible scenes from two men in a car talking about burgers, while other filmmakers end up giving us dialogue that feels like first draft waffling that needs tightening up. There are a few brief flashes of action but because we struggle to engage with the characters, their deaths are simply a way for a scene to end and the next one to start.
Overall: From a technical standpoint Godspeed is great. It is gorgeous to look at and director Chung Mong-hong shoots Thailand, Taipei, and the Taiwanese countryside with confidence and an eye for composition. The downside is that these shots are servicing a movie that feels empty and purposeless.
Featured Image: Applause Entertainment