Film Review: Angels Wear White
(TORONTO, ON) – Angels Wear White will dispel any thoughts you have of China trying to cover up certain unsavoury elements in its society. The film lays everything right on the table in terms of the negative. It is no communist paradise, but a country riddled with political corruption, crime, child abuse, immorality, prostitution, child exploitation, bribery, drunkenness, and all the ills of an urbanized nation.
It continues the 2016 Chinese film I am not Madame Bovary, which I took in while en route to Taipei from Toronto last year on EVA Air. Though that may have been during the course of ingesting a couple of Taiwanese single malt scotches on a 14-hour flight, I do recall Madame Bovary was not afraid to attack the political corruption of China. However, in each case the Communist Party came to the rescue to clean everything up.
In Angels Wear White the Communist Party is not there make everything better, but to cover up a heinous crimes.
Commissioner Liu checks into the Warmness Hotel with a couple of pre-teen girls, Wen and Meng, and feeds them beer.
Mia, a 15 year-old, who has run away from home with her elder sister, is working at reception at the Warmness when Commissioner Liu checks in. By all accounts, and after a medical exam, there is overwhelming evidence he has sexually assaulted the girls.
But, the police and district attorney need more evidence. Mia knows very well, after viewing the security video, that Commissioner Liu did in fact force himself into the girl’s room, and she and her sister keep the fact a secret.
At the risk of getting too involved in the plot, a sympathetic female district attorney finally gets Mia to reveal where the security video is stored.
Wen’s father, long divorced and separated from Wen’s mother, exposes the sordid mess to the media and suddenly is hit with a gag settlement order. Liu offers to pay for Wen’s private school education in exchange for her silence.
Commissioner Liu somehow evades prosecution. When it appears he has finally been snared by the hotel video, a shocking conclusion to the film reveals just how deep the corruption is in the Chinese political system.
A shivering and depressing view of what it is like to be a dispossessed and ignored female in modern China which, honestly, is not that different in Canada, so don’t get snooty and arrogant when you see this film.
(Angels Wear White, China, 2017, 107 minutes, Director Vivian Qu, Chinese with English subtitles, Canada-wide distribution starts 27 July 2018 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 27 July 2018).