Crosscurrent (2016) - full transcript

A voyage in between a woman who tries to searching for the meaning of life and a man holding a book of poems on the longest river of Mainland China.

There's a custom along the river.

When a father passes away,

his son must pull a black fish from the river

and keep it in an incense urn.

He feeds it nothing.

When it has died a natural death

the father's spirit will be at peace.


Happy Chinese New Year!

Where are you off to?

I can't sleep. Going for a walk.

Luo called. He changed the pickup to Jiangyin.

We must be there tomorrow by 3pm.

Let's go! Uncle Xiang says the tide's rising.


Just overhauled before we left.

Main engine is fine.

This auxiliary's nothing but trouble.

I never felt any happiness

as true as mother's arms.

But I long for the sheer agony,

to weep till the mind runs clear.

"I hate when people shout
across great rivers or deep valleys,"

"glorifying themselves."

"I loathe worshiping life.
Sorrow's greater than happiness."

"Purity is greater than daily life."

"--Shanghai, Wuxiang"

"GUANG DE 039"


Wu sheng, keep quiet about this cargo.

Make sure nobody sees.

Especially the marine police.

Don't worry, director Luo.

I'll leave it in your hands, then.

That's my job.

Luo Ding!

Uncle Xiang!

Where is Chun?

Where is Chun?

"The new ship rides the water for 7000 km"

"its old motor coughing."

"My passage through the warm county town
is muted."

"I fear they will hear my despair."


Have a seat.

- Are you cold?
- I'm OK.

It'll warm up soon.

It was my mother's.

She was a doctor.

You can lie down.

Anything wrong?

I've seen you in Shanghai.

How did I look?

Very beautiful.

There must be many who love you.

I love many too.

OK. Ten tons of baby fish.

See you in Yibin.

As agreed, balance on delivery.

Captain Gao, it's in your hands.

Director Luo.

We were thinking.

These fish of yours...

We don't know what kind they are,

and we don't really want to know.

But the way you're handling things

seems sort of... risky.

So you want something...

like a risk premium?

Our boat's all we have.

We could lose everything.

You should've said before.

- It's a bit late now the cargo's on board.
- Director Luo, you understand

some risks can't be put in a contract.

We have to share the risk.


I'll take you at your word.

Well Captain, what's it worth?

Thirty percent more.

We can discuss it, Director Luo.

Up front.

"The hatred between buyer and seller of fish."

"They embrace."

"The struggle of all against all."


But I can see their kindness.

So small,

and yet so beautiful.

Tell me,

how does the future look?

Tell me,

so I don't have to endure it again.

An Lu!


"- Shanghai"

"- Jangyin"

"- Nanjing"

"- Digang"

"I detest hard, cruel faith."

"The picturesque Yangtze"

"and all certain love."


- Master.
- Interested in Buddhist prayer beads?

I have three questions.

Three is all I will answer.

First one:

What is sin?

Buddha be praised.

I think just living is a sin.

Living means

competing for space and objects.


No. Buddha says,

"Space is infinite,
countless as the sands in the Ganges."

No need to compete.

To live is a fortune...

- Hey!
- Isn't space infinite?

- Buddha be praised.
- Hahaha...

Second question:

Can a sinner practice pure faith?


- "Lay down the killing knife..."
- So you can't be Buddha while you hold the knife?

You can.

Third question:

Can you perform miracles?

If you make it snow in this pagoda,

then I believe in Buddha.

I can't.

Can Buddha?

He can.

But miracles are not important.

Miracles don't change karma and don't...


Even Buddha can't perform miracles.

- Buddha be praised.
- Neither can Buddha be praised.

Because miracles are the arch enemies of death.

If faith depends on miracles...

The mystic and the exalted

that need no outer proof,

but burst from the inner heart

in reverence and courage,

would be quite meaningless.

To see the deities reveal themselves,

to behold the dragon in the sky

and the collapse of worldly physics,
before one believes...

Wouldn't that be too late?

By then, even non-believers will believe.

Faith only reveals itself in hardship,

It only reveals itself when miracle doesn't.

Or faith itself is the miracle.

It needs no other miracles as proof.

Faith is

the fearless acceptance of uncertainty.


sin is indifference.

Sin is faithlessness.



- Interested in Buddhist prayer beads?
- May I ask you something?

Three questions. No more.

Was a girl here just now, consulting you?


Where'd she go?

- No idea.
- That doesn't count.

Please tell me,

just now, why did it sound like
your voice was coming from above?

That's how the pagoda works.

Wherever you are,

except on the top floor,

the sound seems to come from above.

We call this "Thus I heard Buddha say".

Do you know what's the color of my heart?

It's pink,

not everyone has the pink heart.

Who cares if your soul is beautiful?

I only care if the meat is tasty.

What's the point of just chatting?

You can't even see each other.

It's fun. It's more fun than meeting.

What do you mean?

Look. This way

I have time to think of what to say.

Otherwise I'd have to answer at once.

And if I'm no good at that?

If I like her, I keep the chat going.

If I don't, I just let it drop.


What did you say? You're disgusting.

What if you like her,

but she doesn't respond?

Then I try another one.

I have over a hundred contacts.

There's always someone. I only need to call.

- I don't mean the flesh.
- Guangde!

- I mean the other part.
- Pay the bill!

Uncle Xiang,

- are you all right?
- I'm fine.

Your dad was much better at this.

Get ready to set sail.

- We should stop in Tongling.
- Fine.

Now why would we stop in Tongling?

"I treasure the purity of my soul"

"and remain loyal to the soul I do not love."


Hurry. The old lady has a temper.

We're borrowing, not stealing. Don't worry.

Keep a lookout.

What are you doing?

- Granny, paper!
- I have some.

- Did you clean everything?
- Smell.


You won't be able to stay here.

I can once the water retreats?

If it floods again, more people will leave.

I wish it would flood every year.

Cultivate mind through body.

Always try to follow the Way.

Just a few words but I can't live up to them.

I don't know anyone who could.

My father could.

For his Buddhist practice

he abandoned my mother.

And me.

It gets more and more beautiful here

as there are fewer and fewer people.

What's the matter?

I'm done walking.

Then go back and rest.

I don't want to leave this place.

In the early years of the Republic,

Heyuezhou was a trade center

and many ships visited.

This place was called "Little Shanghai".

A Sichuan merchant once stopped for the night,

staying in a garret on the main street,

where he spent the night with a local girl.

When he awoke he discovered

that he had become the girl.

while the girl had occupied his body.

The girl left him behind,

taking his boat to Shanghai.

The merchant was powerless to stop her.

He could only wait in the garret for the next visitor.

It's happened again.

Uncle Xiang, it's time to say it.

Chun's still in the dark. Tell him.


your father's soul still lives.

Heaven is still watching.

That's good.

According to old custom,

the fish should be at the center of your house.

But you brought it on board

to show a sons's respect. I understand that.

Isn't two months enough?

Meaning what? Throw it overboard?

I didn't say that.

But leaving it on board affects the living.

Gao Chun.

Gao Chun!

I gave up my devotions to wait for you here

but you never came.

You're worthless.

A worthless coward.

Go on, then.

Where can you hide?

This river is mine!

This year,

the passenger ships have stopped.

No one wants to travel by river.

Ships are so much slower

than trains or planes.

"Where does the sky begin?"

"Why slice the day by twelve?"

"What holds the sun up, and the moon?"

"What aligns these stars?"

"Within these words I am powerless."

"Beyond them, I am a part of
the daily wickedness,"

"creating new suffering."


Some pray to Buddha,

some pray to Mazu,

but most pray to all the gods,

to answer their prayers.

But boathands pray to no one.

The Yangtze River's tidal reach ends here.

The ships can no longer ride the tide upriver.

There used to be a stone marker here,

which read, "The tide stops here".

The marker has since disappeared.

But the boathands all know,

it now up to them to fight the current.

Hello, Hong Wei.


This is made of new cotton,

to keep you warm this winter.

Buddha be praised.

Thick and firm.

I'll bring it in for you.

Wait. She'll finish her devotions soon.



We got the advance, right?

I mean, if you don't mind...

Can I get my share now?

You'll get your wages in Yibin.

Not my wages.

You know what I mean.

My share.

How much do you want?

It's not what I want.

We usually get 20 percent.


You'll get it in our next port.

Thanks, Chun.

What are you doing?

Are you crazy?

You still want to keep the fish?

With the mess we're in?

- Don't ever lay your hands on me again.
- Let go! Let go!

I quit.

You were the death of your father.

Now all this fuss over a black fish.

Where were you when he was alive?

- Wu Sheng, don't talk shit.
- Shut up!

You're a pain in the ass. I'm sick of you.

What do you do but drink all day

and boss me around?

You're just the Gao family dog.

You served the old and now the young.

Does he look like a captain?

Do you look like a captain?

What skills do you have?

You just rely on your parents.

Clutching a fucking book of poetry,
which isn't even yours.

I do all the work on this boat.

I do all the work!

I even got us this cargo.

Wu Sheng, we all know that.

Where are you going?

Where else? To work!

Wu Sheng!

Wu Sheng!

Wu Sheng!

Wu Sheng!

"The cities on the banks have broken faith,"

"I will not go ashore"

"and dive into their sea of light."

"--E 'Zhou"

"I curse the roads I have traveled,"

"the books I have read,"

"my fawning performances,"

"the weakness that drew me from
the solitary path."


"An Lu"

"An Lu"

Watch the stairs.

Follow me, please.

Look here, this was our city.

Here are some photos of the old Zhangfei Temple.

Follow me, we can see the river bank.

Come forward please.

Each brick, each tile was numbered
and moved from the old site,

then exactly rebuilt here.

The project cost plenty but it's a miracle.

Here we see some photos of old Yunyang.

New Yunyang was built
after the dam was completed.

Two thirds of the old town were flooded,

so all the residents were relocated.

Everybody keeps moving.

Uncle Xiang!

Uncle Xiang!

"The cargo in the bottom tank was a fish."

"I set it free. That was my business."

"The fish will bring Yangtze back to life."


"Wu Shan"

"Yun Yang"

"Three Gorges Dam"

"Whether ugly, weak or false,"

"there is no deity to compel belief."

"And so I wait for a woman."


We're here already. Go on.

It'll work. Hurry up.

It's about Zhu Jie, right?

You know everything!

The river has changed.

I thought I'd never find you.

Has it changed?

You've changed too.

"There will come a day,"

"when the bridges where we met,"

"the fords that we crossed,
will all become new."


"You are the banner of understanding,"

"you are a shield against the darkness."

"--Jiang 'an"

An Lu!

An Lu!

Now we present An Lu,

who will read some poetry.

"I should love
the great river-being, fish-like,

as powerful as fate.

"If it..."

"If it swallows you into its belly,

- Don't spoil my poem.
- don't cry, but understand."

"- Don't cry,
- Give me back.

but understand."

There's no understanding.

"...glorifying themselves.

I loathe worshiping life.

Sorrow's greater than happiness.

Purity is greater than daily life.

I am both end and beginning.

Hatred or love,

the proof of the mystery.

I'm not part of karma,

and no longer convey anything.

Wishing only the heart's final peace.

In this life, dakinis take many forms

in order to help others.

Joy or despair, both just for sins.

The moment tears transform to trance

its own liberation."

Do you trust me?


You don't need poetry.

You don't need to repeat

everything I went through.

Captain, Captain,

how do I get to Yibin Pier 4?

- Straight ahead.
- How far?

This is Pier 2.

That boat's at Pier 3. Go past.

Uncle Xiang released the cargo.

Someone will pay him a visit.

Mr. Luo told me to ask you,

what your word is worth.

"In the winter of 1989,"

"I first saw your smile."


"An Duo, Mother"

"Always Beside You
- An Lu"

Don't touch that.