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The Breaking Ice 2023 Film Review: Misunderstood “love story”

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Film Name: 燃冬 / The Breaking Ice / Un hiver à Yanji

《The Breaking Ice》 is a film directed by Singaporean filmmaker Chen Zheyi and starring Zhou Dongyu, Liu Haoran and Qu Chuxiao. The film tells the story of three young people who meet on a winter’s day in Yanji and embark on a journey together to find the heavenly pool in their hearts. Although the film was shortlisted for the 76th Cannes Film Festival’s “Un Certain Regard” competition and screened at other international film festivals, it sparked a huge controversy after its release in China.

There was a serious mismatch between the film’s publicity and its actual content, which led to a big gap between the audience’s expectations and the actual viewing experience. The publicity and distribution team followed the logic of commercial romance films to promote the film, which led to the audience entering the theatre with the expectation of watching a romance film, however, the film essentially focuses more on the confusion and exploration of the youth group, and the flow of emotions and consciousness is the vein of the film’s development. This misalignment of promotion and content left the audience feeling cheated, which led to a large number of bad reviews.

In terms of the film itself, The Breaking Ice is not a plot-driven film, but is full of metaphors and white spaces that need to be experienced and interpreted by the audience. Through the story of three young people, the director shows the inner confusion and exploration of contemporary youth. The snowy scenes and the characters’ emotions in the film intertwine with each other, creating a sense of loving atmosphere.

However, the film’s actors are ambiguously positioned and the images do not give the audience enough visual impact, resulting in some viewers not rating the film highly. In addition, the film has relatively few love elements and more exploration of the characters’ inner worlds, which disappointed viewers who were expecting to see a sweet love story.

Overall, 《The Breaking Ice》 is an exploratory film that tries to present the inner world of the characters and the confusion and exploration of the youth group through metaphors and white space. However, the misalignment of publicity and content as well as the lack of positioning of the actors and the presentation of the picture led to a huge controversy after the release of the film. For viewers who like to read the film in depth, the film may trigger their empathy and thoughts; however, for viewers who expect to see a love story, they may be disappointed and confused.

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