A sixteen-year-old student turns to smuggling to raise the necessary funds to join her wealthy friend on holiday, crossing several types of boundaries in the process.
Sixteen-year-old Peipei crosses the border nearly every day, travelling from her mainland China home to her Hong Kong high school and back again. Customs officials glimpse her school uniform and innocent face and wave her through without a second thought. But Peipei is about to become involved in some illicit activities that will render her routine into something highly dangerous.
Peipei's father works the night shift at a shipping yard while her mother fritters away the family's earnings at late-night mahjong parties. Eager to please her best friend, a wealthy girl making plans for the two of them to spend Christmas holidays at a Japanese hot spring, Peipei is desperate to raise some cash. Her attempt to earn money waitressing yields unimpressive results. But once she crosses paths with the handsome young Hao and his band of smartphone smugglers, an alluring windfall suddenly seems feasible.
Bai Xue's captivating debut uses Peipei's precipitous slide into illegality as a platform upon which to consider numerous kinds of crossings: the traversal of national boundaries; the line that separates the law-abiding citizen from the criminal; the frontier that divides childhood from adulthood. Alternating between unobtrusive hand-held camerawork and interjections of ostentatious style — such as sudden, adrenaline-fuelled freeze-frames — Bai displays a crackerjack cinematic storytelling sensibility, slowly ratcheting up tension while our impressionable young heroine receives a crash course in how to take charge of one's life… and quite possibly lose everything in the process.
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