It’s exceptionally hard to make a film about the specific art of film itself. This can sometimes lead to a sort of awkward, fumbled inception of ideas that never quite meld.
And yet, One Second manages to send up film and the age of 35-millimetre prints without ever bowing to it. It has a restrained reverence, and one that appreciates but also sees the delicate power moving pictures have.
It follows a man who follows a young, abandoned girl in possession of a film reel he desperately seeks. The two spar as they both try to hold onto that reel for their own motives, and perhaps the best part of One Second is that their reasons are kept secret for so long.
Director Zhang Yimou manages a delicate, beautiful portrait, and the lengths people will go to experience the magic of the movies.
Yi Zhang is affecting and his portrayal of a difficult, multilayered character rings true. Our protagonist isn’t a good man, but he’s not beyond redemption either. Wei Fan is incredible as a projectionist who has an intense passion for his craft, and the ultimate capacity of cinema to bring people together.
But it’s young Lia Haocun who is at her mischievous best, infusing each scene here with a bit of levity and joy.
The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, but the strength is in the quiet moments. A nominee at the Berlin International Film Festival, and lauded across the world, One Second will resonate for anyone who absolutely adores cinema.