Movie Review: The Cloud in Her Room2nd January 2021
Memories are finite little moments that we cling onto for safekeeping. They’ll remind us of times where we enjoyed life, or times where utter embarrassment took over. I mention this solely because The Cloud in Her Room would like to remind us of our memory. We might take it for granted, but the actual concept of remembering what we do with ourselves day after day is a genuinely fascinating blessing. If you’re like me, and do the same thing more or less every day (coffee, emails, writing, film, reading, coffee, bed), then you’ve not got much to remember, but there are those out there with experiences and moments worth keeping hold of. It makes it all the more tragic when we start to lose them.
The Cloud in Her Room is a traipse through the land of memories as our leading character, Muzi (Jin Jing), experiences her clustered lifestyle and the loosely connected moments of her life. A first-time feature for director Zheng Lu Xinyuan, her piece is obsessed with the mundanities of the world, and how they shape the experiences and memories we cling to for comfort. I mention memories rather often, but really this is a film that looks to vaguely highlight new experiences, rather than a remembrance of passionate times. Muzi often explores the streets she used to live, attempting to connect with parents and family in upsettingly stilted scenes. Xinyuan’s direction is cold, harsh, but with its black and white cinematography, you’d believe it were intentional.
It certainly feels purposeful, as does much of the craft behind the camera. A genuine care and detailed concern for how shots are framed, the way our characters interact with one another, and the downtime in-between those rare sparks of story. There isn’t really a story anywhere to be found in this one, more points for the real agonizing beauty at the heart of The Cloud in Her Room. There’s no structure to this film, and we’re all the better for it. Difficult to follow at times, but not at all frustrating, this shattered style of narrative is an interesting one. We never really learn intimately of these characters; we barely scratch the surface.
Cemented in a camp of filmmakers who don’t trust consistent narrative structure, Xinyuan’s work in The Cloud in Her Room is exceptional, interesting, and a nice move away from convention. Intimate at times, and that’s where the film thrives best, those pockets of real beauty from both the performers in front of the camera and the keen eye for direction behind it. A little farcical at times, and it may be the right amalgamation of artsy drama and little story to put off larger audiences, but it’ll be a spark of discussion for those that find beauty in its emptiness.