Arrest the Restless | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arrest the Restless 

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Lawrence Ah Mon, a prolific young Hong Kong director whose best efforts have focused on disenfranchised women and youth, pays homage of sorts to Nicholas Ray with this transplanted Rebel Without a Cause, set in the mid-60s, when Hong Kong was in the midst of an identity and political crisis instigated by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China. One of the film's twin narrative strands follows the aimless pursuits of rival street punks and petty criminals--Buck, a gang leader from the poor section of town, played with James Dean-ish insouciance and feline grace by Leslie Cheung (of Farewell My Concubine), comes under police suspicion for a series of drug deals, rapes, and murders. The relentless investigation conducted by the earnest Detective Lam, loosely based on a celebrated reallife case, fuels the film's other narrative thrust. While the tone veers between serious and comic, Ah Mon gets plenty of dramatic tension by adroitly juxtaposing the two points of view, and his mock documentary visuals heighten the feel of verisimilitude. The conventional denouement, however, is something of a letdown: justice is meted out to the guilty, and the righteous parties, Buck included, are congratulated. Deannie Yip, a veteran actress, turns in a portrayal both hilarious and poignant as Buck's rebellious mom and eager accomplice. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, February 12, 6:00, and Sunday, February 13, 4:00, 443-3737, also Univ. of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th St., Wednesday, February 16, 8:00, 702-8575.

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