Bitter Money Screen 83 of 6 reviews

Bitter Money

2016

Bitter Money Poster
  • As with his other films, Wang made Bitter Money with a minimal budget, a tiny crew, and an auto-focusing DSLR camera — elements which provide an agility and an intimacy uncommon even within the traditions of vérité or “direct cinema” at large. Indeed, his works suggest a more ambiguous position than that of the typical fly on the wall: Wang’s films complexly drift between a more passive observational mode and one more directly engaged with his collaborators.

  • It hits the sweet spot, balancing several stories without sticking to or staying away from any individual for too long. We have enough information to see these people as individuals, but their plights also come to represent a dire, widespread economic reality.

  • A characteristically rough-edged work, both visually and in the sound recording, the film eschews aesthetic finesse to follow its multiple characters where situations demand, to strikingly vivid effect.

  • The film is both universal and specific. Wang’s leisurely observational cinema individuates his marginalized subjects even as it develops a compelling if tacit critique of their economic oppression.

  • Despite my liking the film, I would say that the director didn’t manage to get to the bottom of what’s happening the way he managed it in West of the Tracks... For both films, he spent over 2 years filming, but the end result is very different: there is a nine-hour piece on the one hand that contains all details of the collapse of an industrial complex, and a two-and-a-half hour film on the other that, to me, is strong, but could be much stronger if it had been given more time to breathe.

  • The duration seems less purposeful than the vestige of a film in progress. It’s not clear that the director quite found what he was looking for. . . . Only some of the workers, filmed between 2014 and 2016, stand out. The most tense interaction occurs early, when a woman who has left her abusive husband returns to him seeking money. . . . The director’s methods are open to ethical debate, but the power of his filmmaking, at its best, is not.

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