Night Passage

Two Asian women who are best friends and a little boy, all realistically established characters, travel by train at night, disembarking at each stop to encounter enigmatic and highly unrealistic events. This feature by Trinh T. Minh-ha (A Tale of Love, Naked SpacesLiving Is Round) and Jean-Paul Bourdier unfolds as an avant-garde picaresque, though unlike other examples that spring to mind (Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus, Pasolini’s Hawks and Sparrows), it seems neither autobiographical nor ethnocentric, and tends to emphasize theatrical elements (including forthright use of music, choreography, and spoken text). Such seemingly unanchored work is obliged to entertain on some level, and this succeeds pretty well, aided by Bourdier’s lighting and production design. The credited inspiration is Kenji Miyazawa’s novel Milky Way Railroad, and the effective music is by the Construction of Ruins. 98 min. (JR)

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