Mu Zi’s parents’ old apartment is still there. A bed, an abandoned chair, a window falling off its hinges – the remnants of a relationship that has moved on. Her father has started a new family, her mother has friends abroad; it seems like only Mu Zi cares about this place. In The Cloud in Her Room, she wanders several times through this static past.
In her palpably personal debut film, Chinese filmmaker Zheng Lu Xinyuan follows her 22-year-old protagonist as she returns to Hangzhou, where she was born, for the New Year’s celebration. She arranges to meet old friends, makes some new ones and visits her parents, with whom she is mostly on friendly terms. It’s like she doesn’t really fit in anywhere. Mu Zi is living in limbo: like the apartment, she has stopped, caught between past and future.
Zheng Lu, who shot her film in black-and-white, underlines Mu Zi’s alienation through directorial decisions that are at times daring. She combines handheld documentary footage, in which Mu Zi interviews people around her, with more distant camerawork. As a child of separated parents, born at the time of the one child policy and having grown up in a China where everything is changing at breakneck speed, Zheng Lu has made a melancholy, topical film about her generation and the society in which they are growing up. At the same time, it is a universal story about love, relationships, the impossibility of keeping these going and the loneliness this causes.