Absence - web
Absence - web
Absence (2023)

Presented by MIFF


Wu Lang | China | 2023 | Unclassified (15+)

This event has ended and tickets are no longer available.

Lee Kang-sheng brings undeniable star power to this graceful, pensive story of a man trying to find his place in a world that has left him behind.

Released from jail after 10 years, Han Jiangyu returns home to Hainan. Much has changed on the island in his absence, but in a coastal barber shop he finds his former flame, Su Hong, and her young daughter – who might be Jiangyu’s. Like many in Hainan, Hong is scrambling to find a foothold among the skyscrapers that have drastically altered the landscape over the past decade, and in Jiangyu she finds a potential solution: as a local, he can buy housing; he’s also working for property tycoon Kai. But when Kai’s latest development fails, the makeshift family take matters into their own hands.

Building on ideas first explored in director Wu Lang’s 2021 Cannes-screened short of the same name, Absence recalls the work of Tsai Ming-liang (Vive L’Amour, MIFF 2022; Goodbye, Dragon Inn, MIFF 2004), and not just because of Tsai regular Lee’s brooding presence as the lead. In his feature debut, Wu crafts a meticulously restrained study of unbridled urbanisation and the human toll taken when all that steel and concrete is left to rot, crumbling and decayed before it’s even complete. Ably assisted by Deng Xu’s striking camerawork – unexpected and inventive angles abound – he marks himself out as an exciting new director to watch.

A promising, visually inventive debut … Wu manages to find a unique voice for himself in this unusual combination of contemplative stillness and near-apocalyptic urban panorama.

International Cinephile Society


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100 mins


Unclassified (15+)


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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