Thriller is a thing of the past
The Houston Chronicle

There's something seductively fascinating about the chilly spareness and cryptic allusiveness of writer-director Nicholas Chin's "Magazine Gap Road," a formally precise yet emotionally resonant thriller about going to extremes while escaping the past. This well-crafted Hong Kong import demands and rewards patience with its unhurried entwining of suspense and sensuality, desperate measures and selfless gestures.

The title refers to a tony enclave of wealth and privilege - think River Oaks, only more so - where Samantha (Jessey Meng), a strikingly beautiful ex-prostitute, has successfully reinvented herself as the invaluable assistant to the curator of a museum.

Dr. Lee (Richard Ng), her proud mentor, knows everything about her background - and admires her all the more for transcending it.

But all it takes is a frantic phone call from Kate (Ying Qu), another "escort" employed by the same flesh-peddler who once controlled Samantha. Loyal to her friend, Samantha helps Kate hide out long enough to kick her drug habit, with a little help from Mao (Elvis Tsui), a disgraced ex-cop. But when it comes to removing the final impediment to Kate's happily-ever-aftering, Samantha takes a solo approach to problem-solving. Big mistake.
There's rarely a genuinely warm moment in "Magazine Gap Road," a coolly realized drama charged with alternating currents of tragic inevitability and steely defiance.

Rating: 3 stars

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