‘Angels Wear White’ is a tragic tale with a moral

Jia nian hua (2017)

Angels Wear White (2018)

Directed by Vivian Qu

Have you been asking for a 2-hour-long, Chinese version of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”? If so, director Vivian Qu’s sophomore effort is just the thing for you.

“Angels Wear White” is about two preteen girls (played by Meijun Zhou and Xinyue Jiang) who are sexually assaulted by a police commissioner. The only person with evidence of the crime, though, is a snobby hotel employee (Vicky Chen) only slightly older than the victims, and she’s not willing to come forward as a witness.

Jia nian hua (2017)

Qu’s film is slow, sometimes dreadfully slow, but it’s compassionate. As much as I sometimes wished it would’ve taken a few outrageous twists and turns, like an “SVU” episode would have, I respect it for telling the story straight and allowing the realism to serve as the drama. It lets the awful reality sink in, even though it may seem simple by American standards. And when the small but powerful climax does hit, it feels like a real gut punch, because it’s the first sign of anything even slightly amped-up. Plus, it speaks to the harsh realities of institutional failures and flat-out corruption that is way too common, here as well as in China. Though it lacks the soap opera-esque madness of American crime thrillers, “Angels Wear White” is a tragic tale with docu-drama pacing.

6/10

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