Under a tin-gray sky, in a hollowed out corner of northern China, a stranger arrives in town bearing magical soap—but smelling it will cost you. Nearby, a pair of unenthused cops try cracking a seemingly simple case. Or not. And you can forget religious solace; the only monk around is not what he seems.
Director Jun Geng is at his best when he celebrates the gaunt, manufactured landscapes of an unseen China and holds anyone of authority up to a Jarmusch-esque light for examination. Geng’s affection for his ensemble of offbeat, yet everyday, characters—combined with cool, angular visuals that create a strange harmony between the harsh, geographical backdrop and its humble inhabitants—makes their absurdist journeys feel human.
Steeping a caper in a workerless industrial center puts a fresh twist on the crime genre, proving Geng’s love of working against convention, as he casts a satirical eye on a system so flawed it’s tragicomic.