White River (Yan Jiao) Image

White River (Yan Jiao)

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | December 1, 2023

NOW ON VOD! The harder you lockdown, the harder they come in this erotic quarantine drama White River, the white-hot directorial debut of Xue Ma. Across the White River from Beijing is Yanjiao, also known as “The Sleeping City,” due to all of the Beijing workers who sleep there at night.

Yang Fan (Yuan Tian) is a young housewife who spends her lockdown days cleaning and cooking while loudspeakers incessantly bark out quarantine restrictions. Bored to tears, she furiously masturbates while her husband, Fang (Weihao Xu), is at work furiously masturbating himself. When he falls asleep at night, she goes out in the streets to eat late bowls of soup. She notices the Bart Simpson patch on the sweatpants of her waiter, Yuan Yang (Ning Feng Song), and starts waiting around as he closes down every night.

Bored to tears, she furiously masturbates…”

As the announcements to stay in place keep ringing out, Yang Fan finds herself having wild sexual encounters with the waiter. Her husband accidentally sees her with the waiter and is consumed. At first, Fang takes it out on Yang Fan sexually before discovering what he really wants: to see his wife and the waiter go at it really hard while he clutches himself in another room. Wonder how that’s going to work out? Trust me, you have no idea.

Not since In The Realm Of The Senses has a film showcased sensuality in such a delicate yet potent way. The vivid representation of female sexuality stings like a slap to the face or lower. Ma’s masterful moves to achieve this impact include the sharpness of the contrast built into the lockdown setting. Showing mundane routines repeated over and over with the constant announcements to stay indoors and test yourself repeatedly is the perfect dull grey canvas that allows the sexual flares to really pop. The enforced boredom everywhere creates an ominous sense of pressure that bursts into wildfires of sexual transgression.

White River (Yan Jiao) (2023)

Directed: Xue Ma

Written: Xue Ma, Weihao Xu

Starring: Yuan Tian, Weihao Xu, Ning Feng Song, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

White River (Yan Jiao) Image

"…echoes the taboo breaking art films of the 1970s and is easily in the same class"

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