Even three weeks out from my November 11th screening as of the time of this writing, Gan Bi’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night is still the most conflicted I have felt about a film, at least narratively, all year.
To be frank, the story seemed like an afterthought, although I am sure there is still deeper meanings to be uncovered upon subsequent viewings, which I definitely plan on partaking in. This is something I usually never do for films, and the ones that do require it usually end up becoming some of my all-time favorites (see: 2001: A Space Odyssey). This reality still remains to be seen with this specific film, but there are things about this film which I am absolutely certain of, that much is for sure. The film is certainly a technical masterpiece, capped off by the most stunning one-shot take ever filmed, coming in at over fifty-five minutes, and with perhaps the most technically-impressive and clever usage of 3-D since its inception. One thought persisted in my head as this masterful work of seamless camera movements was being etched into the deepest recesses of my mind, and that is “how in the actual fuck did they film this?” No film at HIFF this year had me more eager to see the special features and making-of documentaries included on the home video release, which I am not sure this film will get, due to its niche audience and uniquely-frustrating structure.
I do think this film is a narrative void, and for the script, there is not much else to say. But on a technical level, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is possibly the most mind-boggling visual spectacle since Interstellar, and it may be just as metaphorically deep, but without multiple viewings, I will never know for sure.