Smoke-Free TIFF Presents: Angels Wear White

                                               Angels Wear White

Angels Wear White (2017)

Reviewed by: Vedant Kochhar (YATI Volunteer)

Angels Wear White premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is the first Smoke-Free TIFF Movie Review. The film brings forth critical social issues which include child sexual abuse, violence against women, prostitution, and the corruption present within society. The film is in Chinese with English subtitles. It was released on September 7th 2017 at film festivals throughout the world. The film stars Wen Qi, Shi Ke, Geng Le, and many others. It is interesting to note that due to its festival release, the film’s rating was labelled STC (Subject To Classification) as it was not yet rated. However, I found that in the movie, there were mature scenes found at various points throughout the film. And so, I would rate this movie 18A. The story revolves around two schoolgirls –Wen and Xin, who are assaulted by a powerful middle-aged man in a motel. Mia, a teenager who was working reception that night, is the only witness. For fear of losing her job, she says nothing. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Wen, one of the victims, realizes that her troubles were just beginning.  Trapped in a world that seems to be very evil, these two girls must both find their way out.

The movie starts off by having short and cut off scenes of different angles of a big statue of Marilyn Monroe, and the main character Mia is shown staring at this figure. In the Q & A session that followed the movie, the director Vivian Qu shared an interesting anecdote while working on the script for this film. She read a newspaper article of a Marilyn Monroe statue being moved out of a small town in China. The residents of the town posted messages all around saying “Don’t go Marilyn!”. This deep interest in the statue stuck with the director, and she asked a few of her own female friends about what they thought of the news. One of them responded that Marilyn meant everything to her but love.

Angels Wear White is a foreign film which provides other parts of the world an insight into the state of affairs in China, and the struggles that women face in particular in a patriarchal and sexist world. It opens up the audiences’ appreciation of a more accepting country like Canada where these social issues may be considered less prevalent.

Was there smoking in the movie? Yes.

tobacco impressions

Who is smoking? The police officer, Wen’s mother and father, and the thugs.

What was happening in the scene with smoking? The police officer smoked cigarettes whenever he was stressed, or right after arguments. Wen’s mother smoked after she was given more information regarding her daughters’ case. She also smoked whenever she would feel guilty about her daughter’s situation.  The thugs smoked out of habit.

Would you notice if the smoking was taken out of the movie? No, I would not notice.

What was your reaction to seeing the characters using tobacco –  I thought that the tobacco usage in the film, went with the flow of my understanding of tobacco usage. It is unpleasant, it is destructive and the characters who used it, were villainous. I would rate this movie 18A so children and young viewers are not exposed to the tobacco found present within the film.

Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? No, it did not show the health effects, but it did show some social consequences of broken relationships, irresponsible people, and chain-smokers instigating their partners to smoke, corruption, and marital instability.