Director Jia Zhangke brings together 4 short stories based on actual real life struggles, set within varying areas of modern-day China. Each one meanders along the mundanity of their current existence, leaving you guessing whether there is a point, or at what point the story will kick into gear. Rest assured that while every story has a key message to deliver, primarily around the key themes of the socio-economic climate of China and it’s impact on our very different central characters, they reach a sudden conclusion that will unexpectedly shock you.
Aesthetically its beautiful to look at, amid the violence there’s a Tarentino-esque presentation to frame it all. It’s this bittersweet atmosphere that makes the film engrossing to watch, as we see individuals that are content with where they are, but pushed to breaking point in a country that values money over its occupants at all costs. Much in the same way that films like Wild Tales or Falling Down were a cleansing exercises in rebelling against aggravating situations, A Touch of Sin provides that same level of release.
The disgruntled miner, the frustrated receptionist, the over-worked factory worker and the migrant worker intent on supplying for his family by any means, each tell their tale with such precision and exhausting bluntness, that the endings of each tale almost feel justified despite their reprehensible actions.