Absurdity meets petty crime

In a dying industrial city where supposedly nothing happens, excitement and peculiarity can be found in the absurdity of life.

Free and Easy pits one scam artist against another in this beautifully shot film

A desolate town in northern China, in which trees go missing and inconsequential crimes abound, sets the perfect stage for an absurdist comedy about crime and pettiness.

Directed by Jun Geng, Free and Easy is a film that embodies the absurdist comedic genre. A travelling soap merchant tries selling his magic soap — but smelling it makes people fall unconscious, allowing him to pick their pockets while they sleep. From there, one crime leads to another until the characters have a murder on their hands.

Free and Easy, which had its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 17, is, in some ways, an ode to small-town life and petty crime. Life in the post-industrial, mostly abandoned town seems incredibly dull. But as the movie progresses and crimes are uncovered, one discovers the life beneath the apathy.

The editing of the film is poetic, with languid shots of the snowy landscape and a minimal, almost absent score that blends in perfectly with the cinematography. The absurdist humour comes through in the settings and the contrasts between different characters — a crook masquerading as a monk, a forest ranger thoroughly confused as to how someone could steal his trees (which tower over six metres high), and two completely useless cops asked to investigate a petty thief.

Free and Easy is a deadpan comedy of the most absurd and dry kind, finding humour in the pettiness of life.


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