Cannes 2010 - A Certain Regard
Shanghai, a fast-changing metropolis, a port city where people come and go. Eighteen people recall their lives in Shanghai. Their personal experiences, like eighteen chapters of a novel, tell stories of Shanghai lives from the 1930s to 2010... An eternally wandering soul returns to Shanghai and, walking along the banks of the Huangpu River, awakens to all the changes the city has undergone ... featuring Zhao Tao, Hou Hsiao Hsien and Lim Giong. From the director of STILL LIFE, 24 CITY and PLATFORM.
Treasurable images from Chinese cinema and moving personal histories from the people of Shanghai lend potent human and aesthetic dimensions to "I Wish I Knew," Jia Zhangke's lengthy survey of the city's eventful past and ever-changing present... beautifully lensed work... Jia at perhaps his most accessible... the emotion expressed by some of the 18 individuals featured here is universal enough to lend "I Wish I Knew" a human interest and impact... As the interviews progress, a portrait emerges of Shanghai as a seat of significant political, criminal and artistic activity. It's the latter aspect of the city that seems to most interest Jia, who fills the second half with testimony from additional film bizzers, accompanied by clips of their key Shanghai-set films: Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien ("Flowers of Shanghai"); actress Barbara Fei (daughter of "Spring in a Small Town" helmer Fei Mu); and Zhu Qiansheng, a crewmember on Antonioni's "Chung Kuo -- Cina."
Justin Chang, VARIETY
Jia Zhangke’s affectionate valentine to the city’s history, architecture and cinematic heritage is built around the vivid personal testimonies of eighteen of its citizens telling tales that span the period from the 1930s through the Communist victory in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution of 1960s to the present day... Strong cinephile interest is guaranteed by the inclusion of a number of leading figures from the local film industry among the witnesses including Hou Hsiao-Hsien and actress Rebecca Pen who starred in Wong Kar-Wai’s Days Of Being Wild (1990)... Landmark sights like Victoria Harbour and the location of the Shanghai World Expo provide the backdrop to a portrait of a city in constant flux over the past seventy years with most of the testimonies focusing on some kind of exile from the city or arrival there from another place... Scenes of contemporary Shanghai depict the crumbling grandeur of the past nestling alongside the many construction sites promising the shiny new buildings of the future. The testimonies tend to be at their most vivid when recalling the repercussions of Shanghai’s liberation in 1949...
Alan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
*** 1/2 (out of 4 stars) Jia Zhangke's exploration of a sort of hybrid documentary (24 City) bears remarkable fruit in this formally brilliant and moving look at Shanghai, Taiwan, and controversial events in China's modern history as reflected in the movies... Jia is in such command, virtually every image is magnetic, bursting with striking details or simply beautiful...
Michael Glitz, TIME OUT CHICAGO (USA)
The film is never less than gorgeous, and there's often an intuitive and pleasing internal rhythm to how he cuts within and between shots... I Wish I Knew can feel quite a bit like Jia's version of an essay film, a sprawling commentary on the relationship of the past to the present through such disparate means as memory, political dialectics, storytelling, performance, and film... a sensuous and thought-provoking experimental documentary, far more deserving of a competition slot (in the Cannes Fest Competition)...
Matt Noller, SLANT (USA)