Deep in the Heart also goes by another English title, The Coffin in the Mountain, but I much preferred the Chinese title 心迷宫 which literally translates into The Labyrinthine Heart. I learned about this movie some months ago from a friend but he ended his review with a marvellous line “the ending felt like discovering a fly at the bottom of a bowl of lobster bisque”. That sure didn’t entice me to check it out. Then a few days ago, another friend saw it, laid on the praises and coerced me to see it, and see it we did last night, and we both enjoyed it tremendously. There may be a fly at the bottom of the soup, but what great soup this is.
The setting is a rural village, populated by all sorts of characters with sinister designs. Before the night is over, someone will die, and all sorts of shady shenanigans will ensue to lay out everyone’s black heart. That’s all you need to know.
The joy of watching this dark crime-comedy is in its labyrinthine journey into the murkiest depth of the human soul. This is like those stories in which one selfish and malicious act caused a confluence of events that will become a perfect storm. The plot is cleverly Tarantino-esque – you will see certain scenes and understand them in one way and then the same scenes will be revisited with a different context giving renewed breath to them. Yes, I agree with my friend with the lacklustre ending. IMHO it should have just ended with the father and son standing side by side with the coffin as can be gleaned from the movie poster. The black humour and fatalistic juxtaposition would have been perfect. But I think in China there is a rule when it involves crime films – the ending must depict that crime does not pay and the guilty must be punished. Remember 无间道 (Infernal Affairs)? There were two endings shot. The China got some crap ending with Andy Lau getting arrested which left a bad taste in my mouth. But that said, even with the politically correct ending with regards to 心迷宫, it doesn’t change the fact that this is one absorbing film with so many moving cogs grinding with deathly precision. I would even say this is a minor masterpiece.
4 / 5
The whole movie with English and Chinese subtitles!
PS – My wifey also uttered a line as good as my friend’s. She is going to kill me if she knows I share it but I always feel good stuff must be shared. She described the chap who mans a provision shop as a man who has “a dick that has been twisted into the shape of a heart”. Priceless! I can never come out with gems like this.