Freewheeling slacker Kun (Zhou You) is the proud new owner of a smoking, broken-down mess of a Jeep, his spirit animal in vehicular form. Whilst the car is a direct representation of Kun as a person at this moment in his life, the journey that he takes in it also works well as a metaphor for Striding Into the Wind on the whole; meandering and lacking direction.
As a former film student and past owner of many dodgy cars myself – much like Kun – the setup for the film almost feels a bit too close to home. Thankfully, that’s where the comparisons end (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself). Kun lacks purpose in life, unwilling to take anything too seriously, be it his driving test which he bails on halfway through, or his studies, which he alternately talks through or doesn’t show up for. He works as an on-set sound recordist, shooting a film for the most pretentious of directors, a man who’s as big of a fan of his own voice as the filmmakers whose styles he apes. Quick to poke fun at this character though the film is, Striding Into the Wind is ironically unable to avoid the very same pitfalls that it perceives him to be the victim of.
Just like the film within the film that Kun and company are making, Striding Into the Wind becomes increasingly loose and rudderless. And though Zhou You’s performance is solid, with his apathy towards basically everything providing laughs early on, his charm soon wears thin. After the umpteenth time of hearing Kun talk of hitting the open road to Inner Mongolia without actually taking any action to do so, his indifference begins to rub off on you. And though it’s a pilgrimage that he does eventually embark upon, by that point it became clear that I simply was no longer as on board for the ride as I’d have hoped to have been.
Rating (out of 5):
Striding Into the Wind was part of the programme at the BFI London Film Festival 2020.