Sijia Ke’s film Pear is based on a true story. Maybe. It’s based on a story, in any case — one that Ke was listening to on the radio, despite not speaking the language it was broadcast in. But something in the tone and the overall atmosphere moved her anyway, and she translated it into an elliptical, abstracted version of her own.

Drawn very simply, using pencil and paper, the film feels improvised, like Ke had to capture it on paper before the mood escaped. It’s not that it’s rushed—the pacing is too methodical for that. But it is intentionally rough, and consistently unsettling, a dream that threatens to turn into a nightmare even though it isn’t explicitly nightmarish. What it is more than anything is a mood, and I guess if it could be captured in words, Ke wouldn’t have needed to draw it.



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