China / Germany, 1999 (MIFF 2000, Regional Focus)
Director: Lou Ye
"A compelling story of love and obsession whose progress mirrors the sinuous flow of the Shanghai waterway that supplies its title, Suzhou (River). Combining elements from classical Hollywood cinema—Hitchcock's Vertigo in particular— with a gritty, contemporary texture, this coolly atmospheric drama deservedly won a Tiger Award for Best Director at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
In the opening scenes, a videomaker reminisces about his brief romance with a nightclub dancer who lives on a houseboat and performs in an aquarium dressed as a mermaid. Her sudden disappearing act leaves him melancholy and prone to inventing stories about the human traffic that passes beneath his window.
"Intricately constructed and persuasively played by the two leads, Suzhou works both as a teasing, seductive mystery full of understated noirish touches and as a melodrama about love and loss with an emotionally resonating climax"— David Rooney, Variety