HAVE A NICE DAY
Directed by Liu Jian
Official Selection, 2017 Berlin International Film Festival
Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation (Feature Film), 2017 Fantasia International Film Festival
After his fiancée undergoes botched plastic surgery, mobster delivery boy Xiao Zhang desperately steals a bag of Uncle Liu’s money, intent on using the cash to take her to Korea for corrective work. When the money is then subsequently stolen from him, a wide cast of grimy characters — from hit men to restaurateurs to family members — get involved in tracking down Xiao Zhang…and the money.
While the plot moves along well-paved paths, the gritty and quotidian style of HAVE A NICE DAY sets it apart as an intriguing example of China’s rising indie animation scene. Many of HAVE A NICE DAY’s characters are prone to philosophical soliloquies as they reveal their motivations — often from in front of fading posters and artwork from the West — while botched bon mots from tech titans such as Jack Ma and Steve Jobs point to the film’s deeper themes. With a bleak tone throughout, and a realistic art style that strays from the expressive elegance of traditional Chinese animation, HAVE A NICE DAY takes the lowlife crime story and expands it into a larger critique of modern China’s capitalist corruption. The opportunity to see this unique vision should not be missed. –Jonathan Yang