Ice Poison
This grim depiction of survival takes place across the Chinese border in Myanmar, where a young man and his father attempt to eke out a desperate living farming vegetables. When their crop fails one year, they get a loan to buy a scooter, in the hope the son can boost their income as a taxi driver. Through doing this he falls in with a disgruntled young woman who has managed to flee her arranged marriage in China and is dealing and smuggling meth amphetamine. Inevitably the young lad falls in with her, assisting her in her illegal dealings as well as falling foul of the drug itself.

Using a series of lengthy static single takes to document how these dead end lives continue to go from bad to worse, director Midi Z creates a documentary-like atmosphere to his work, which only accentuates the despair and futility of their existence. For the most part the film works well, with closed off, expressionless, yet compassionate performances, however the film comes to a deplorable, heavy-handed conclusion, as the family’s fate is punctuated by an extended sequence showing the real slaughter of a cow. The sequence is unnecessary and repugnant, leaving a distinctly bitter taste in the mouth at the end of what had otherwise felt immediate and urgent.

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