‘The Breaking Ice’ Review: Anthony Chen’s Emotional Depiction of Struggle & Human Connection by Karina Pakalnis

Anthony Chen’s The Breaking Ice is a hauntingly beautiful film illustrating the relationship between three young adults who navigate their personal struggles through an unexpected, briskly blooming friendship. One is held down by the trauma of losing their lifelong dream; Another held back by their lack of education and an inability to improve their everyday experience; The other successful in their career and financial situation but starved of happiness and purpose. Their lives collide and the three individuals connect through their shared sensation of drowning in their existence – frozen in a lake of their own consciousness.

Together they become involved in a love-triangle that influences each to overcome their personal obstacles, ultimately teaching one another the importance of living a life devoid of fear and personal doubt so they may break through the ice.

Anthony Chen’s use of imagery as well as his choices regarding the cinematography of the film deliver a highly emotional and intimate experience from screen to viewer. Set in beautiful northeast China, the film is riddled with imagery of ice and snowy landscapes, solidifying the overall theme of breaking through the ice which stands in as a metaphor of being ‘frozen’ in one mindset or way of living. Moreover, a cinematographic highlight from the film is the use of a bird’s-eye view in multiple scenes, which demonstrates the characters engaging in carefree behaviour such as wandering aimlessly through a maze or laying silently in snow.  

Overall, Anthony Chen’s The Breaking Ice is a modern love story between three young individuals who enlighten each other on how to accept, love, and let go – to dissolve negative beliefs and personal restrictions and move towards a free-spirited way of living.

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