Watchlist Review: Can't Quit
Updated: May 7
A chauffeur, who secretly uses his boss's car to make taxi money at night, is struggling to quit smoking. A student director, who is going location scouting, charters the car for the night until morning. It reveals the inner battle of a smoker, whether keep finding excuses and continue to do so, or quit it.
Actor turned filmmaker Weiyang Liu takes a deep dive into experimental filmmaking as he shoots a night-time adventure across Beijing. Following a chauffeur looking for extra cash, Weiyang treats us to a visually stunning journey, shooting the entire film on an iPhone 14 Pro using only available light. The results are impressive, but Weiyang is smart enough not to rely just on the visuals.
The chauffeur struggling to quit smoking serves as a prism through which to explore themes of lost potential and suppressed desire. The plot fully kicks in as he picks up a student filmmaker who offers him an increased rate to ferry him around the city until sunrise as he looks for locations for his next film. What follows is an exploration of functional addiction, how it manifests socially and crucially, why it is hard to quit. What makes this exploration so interesting is that it does not play out like an anti-smoking infomercial. Instead, character is revealed through a debate between the chauffeur and the emerging filmmaker, that range from the need to smoke to squandered life chances. Setting the conversation against the backdrop of the bright lights of Beijing make the crux of the debate hit that much harder.
There are strong ‘buddy road trip’ elements at play throughout this film. The relationship between a worker and his customer evolves in ways that challenges the world view of both, while providing a filmmaker’s insight and experience about getting people to take you seriously. Simultaneously it lays clues throughout the story that pay off with a cutting tragedy at the film’s conclusion.
Bolstered by high-energy performances from Jialin Qin as the student filmmaker and the films writer, producer and director, Weiyang Liu as the chauffeur; the film cleverly merges its dialogue-heavy moments with its most visually arresting beats. As a result, the audience does not have time to get lost in overlong verbal sparring and instead is able to internalise the concepts and perspectives that the film throws out, while experiencing a beautifully put together piece of digital film.
Weiyang’s commitment to experimenting with story as much as visuals leads to an excellent and attention-grabbing foray into the world of filmmaking and the mind of an equal parts fresh and ambitious filmmaker. Can’t Quit is an excellent piece of work that definitely belongs on your short film watchlist.
Studio: Weiyang Liu | Year: 2023 | Genre: Drama | Duration: 17 Mins | Suitability: Mature
Weiyang Liu, Jialin Qin
Director: Weiyang Liu | Producer: Weiyang Liu | Writer: Weiyang Liu
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