Bleak, melancholic, poetic and at the same time unbearably realistic: the tone is set from the very beginning of the film as the audience is told of an elephant in Manzhouli that just sits there, unmoving, even when it is insulted, abused and injured by people.
This elephant becomes a symbol of escape from the dark maelstrom in which the four main protagonists find themselves. Bu has pushed a classmate who is bullying him down the stairs and is on the run. Cheng, the classmate's older brother, feels guilty about a friend's suicide, while the still sprightly Mr Wang fights back against his son who wants to send him to an old people's home. Bu's school friend Ling lets her teacher compliment her. Nevertheless, Bu hopes that she will go to see the elephant with him. The film follows its protagonists over the course of one tense day as they wait for the train to leave for Manzhouli.
The film premiered at the 68th Berlinale in 2018 shortly after the young director took his own life on 12th October 2017. (ML)