Starring: Gao Yuanyuan, Yao Chen, Mark Chao
Director: Chen Kaige
Running Time: 121 mins
Caught In The Web is a Chinese film about a woman whose refusal to yield her seat on the bus for an elder goes viral, sending her life and the lives of all those around her into chaos.
On hearing the synopsis for this film, I was immediately intrigued. The premise for Caught In The Web is so intriguing, and promised something that I’ve never seen before. However, despite starting with a bang, the film is unfortunately an exceedingly thin and overly drawn-out affair that doesn’t provide any intrigue beyond its first act, ultimately descending into a dull, forgettable drama that doesn’t live up in any way to its initially exciting premise.
Before I get into why this is so forgettable in the end, the first act of this film is actually very good. Rather than waiting about with unnecessary character backgrounds, the film throws you right into the madness with the actual event on the bus almost immediately. From then on, the ensuing media circus is fascinating to follow, as well as the woman herself attempting to apologise to the nation that has gone mad about the video.
For the best part of half an hour, I was hooked on this movie. The intriguing premise worked just like I expected, and the film’s quick pace from the start gave a fantastic first impression, making me enthusiastic to follow the remainder of the story beyond the opening act.
Unfortunately, however, the film rapidly runs out of steam after its first act. Whilst fascinating at the beginning, Caught In The Web blows all it’s got in the first half hour, and as a result languishes about for an hour and a half with a dull series of personal stories that feel completely unrelated to the initial story about modern media culture and the public’s reaction to viral stories like this.
The performances also fall down heavily as the film goes on. That’s in part due to the actors having less to do, as the film loses its sense of urgency and drama and falls deeper into a tiring and uninteresting collection of personal stories, but it’s still a shame that the actors, who did so well to convey the huge chaos and drama that unfolded right at the beginning of the film.
In the end, I was very disappointed by Caught In The Web. Despite an enthralling and quick-paced opening, the film rapidly runs out of steam in almost every way, failing to provide an interesting or exciting look at the effects of the media chaos on the personal lives of all the parties involved, and ending up as a hugely dull and completely forgettable drama, and that’s why it gets a 6.2 from me.