“Have a Nice Day”
A Southern Chinese City
Liu Jian takes us on a colorful journey through a southern Chinese city through warm colors and an exceptional musical score that mixes classical American jazz with traditional Chinese sounds. Several people from diverse backgrounds with different motives enter into bloody conflict in the darkly comedic, animated feature film, “Have a Nice Day”.
A bag containing a million yuan is the focus and greed and selfish motives come into play. The gangster boss claims the bagful is his recalls days from future past while lecturing to a spunky subordinate who claims to be an artist. Some philosophical discourse takes place on what iconstitutes art and who can call themselves a true artist. We then learn that the bag has been lost and/or stolen and a butcher/hitman is sent to recover the bag full of money.
The bag moves from one point to another and various individuals reveal social and moral issues while holding the bag of money tightly in hopes of having a better life. In the end, however, it’s all just fantasy.
Modern China is in a state of flux and a real war for control is filled with violence and dangerous activities. By using animation, director Liu Jian is adeptly able to circumvent and soften some of the more distasteful aspects of this movement toward progress while at the same time heightening and stylizing the mood in China today.
As he does, he adds some subtle Western influences as he develops nuances of character. A great deal has been made about China’s growing economic power and goal of world dominance and, by the film’s end, the Hitman says that “without high-technologies we just can’t win.” The film closes with an earthy mise-en-scene as a large city in shades of browns and grays that sits silently while a long, steady rain fills the screen.
The film causes discussion and analysis regarding the state of things. One of the most telling aspects of the film is the frequency characters express a need or desire to leave for another country, often for better educational opportunities or plastic surgery to fix the botched work .
This is a film about a caper and viewers should not get too attached to any characters, but neither should they count any out, no matter how bad their situation looks. Liu gives the film noir trappings and little mundane details that really ground it in the real world.