The character “恙” is composed of the upper part of “kindness” (善) and the lower part of “malice” (恶) in Chinese.
The performers wander in the bright path innocently and jump into the darkness to commit crimes. “Brightness” and “darkness”, “kindness” and “malice”.
You, the camera, the screen, the setting, the hole in the foreground, the gaze, the idea… When we peer into the film, we are in a profound and challenging exploration of human nature.
An oddly-shaped brain, a squeezed amygdala, a bunch of low-activity MAO-A genes and a gifted dark personality. “Malice” seems to be a primitive impulse.
Is “malice” innate?
A child witnesses a beating, a killing, a dismemberment ….. They begin to imitate, kill and struggle……
Is “malice” learned?
Chasing, hunting, assassinating, whatever it takes – they execute a well-planned murder, taking their rivals down. Is this driven by the “winner-take-all” social norm and the blind obedience to authority?
Is “malice” a product of the environment?
When people are collectively hissing, are you going to echo? When people are throwing bombs at them, are you helping hand out the weapons? Do you close your eyes and shut your lips when all other people are ignoring a cry for help?
Is “malice” a quest for security from conformity and a fear of being a maverick?
Returning back to their normal life, sitting in front of a screen and staring at their crimes, they deny: “It’s not the ‘real’ me! I’m just a tool following orders.” “It’s not the ‘real’ me! I’m just role-playing.”
Is this an identity assigned by the system of “malice” to us?
“Malice” seems to be everywhere.
There can be countless thoughts of “kindness” and “malice” running through our minds every second.
The film wants to find out what force is driving or holding these thoughts back, to what extent does “kindness” effectively inhibit “malice”, and how do “kindness” and “malice” maintain a balance.
The “question-mark person” in the film conveys our confusion about human nature, or perhaps, it is the embodiment of both “kindness” and “malice” and the countless thoughts flowing in our minds. We, and the “question-mark person”, manipulate each other and coexist in peace.
As performers lock their bodies, they touch, pull, collide, tug, drag …… The complex, dynamic humanity grows out of the interaction of their limbs ……
Directed by Jin Li and Jingyan Lin (China)