Ice-PoisonThere is a great deal of unrest and frustration in Midi Z.’s native Burma, and, though the director is desperate to let the world know it, he never uncomfortably forces his political agenda, favouring nonintrusive direction and observation over definite resolution. In keeping with his previous two feature length efforts Return To Burma and Poor Folk, this third outing focuses on Burmese struggles – notably for its younger generations.

Living a secluded, peaceful life up in the Burmese mountains, we are introduced to a nameless father and son. Dependent on the fate of their crops, they head down from their humble surroundings with the intent of borrowing money from family to invest in a scooter taxi. Losing numerous customers to those with cars, the son’s desperation during long takes is palpable and surprisingly moving, until he eventually finds a passenger in the form of Sanmei.

After her forced marriage in China, young mother Sanmei returns to Myanmar to deal drugs, ultimately dragging in her taxi man (but always making time for a spot of karaoke). Essentially the wheels to her operation, the out of touch and quiet mountain man finds a type of liberation through her, and the ‘ice’ he helps deliver, even if warned by his father from the off about the dangers of being seduced by the hard stuff.

From the diegetic imprint of birdsong in the mountains to the hustle and bustle of busy Burmese roads, Midi Z. has produced an impressive fly-on-the-wall experience. Yet, as natural as your involvement will feel, you’re left wishing it pushed that little bit further into the Burmese consciousness. Carefree children helping their mothers work with gleeful innocence will soon turn into the adults clutching cigarettes like their only worldly possessions. Everywhere you look, people are working, but Midi Z. also hints at the other side of the argument where a reliance on drugs drains money and blurs priorities to the point of poverty.

Far more than just the first, borderline sensual sharing of narcotics binds Sanmei and her driver. Their personal sacrifices and unfortunate situations are a successful microcosmic reflection of the trials young Burmese adults face, leaving you hungry to know more about the country’s cyclic condition.