The Taiwanese crime mystery film “The Post-Truth World,” with multiple twists and turns, will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very last minute. The film is not just about the unfolding of a mystery; it is, more importantly, a commentary on media sensationalism and human psychology. With a crisp script and convincing performances from the entire cast, “The Post-Truth World” is an entertaining Netflix watch. None of the characters in “The Post-Truth World” is trustworthy. As the film progresses, you may begin to doubt every adult’s involvement in the murder mystery.
‘The Post-Truth World’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
In 2012, during the Asia League Series, a school student named Wang Shih-yun was brutally murdered in the ballpark. She was wounded in the abdomen, and later the murderer tried to remove evidence by pouring hydrochloric acid on the body. After conducting their investigation, the police concluded that her boyfriend, Zhang Zheng-yi, had murdered her. The two had an argument before Shih-yun died, and he was infamous for his hot temper. It was concluded that, in a moment of rage, he murdered his girlfriend. The police found DNA in Shih-yun’s fingernails, further confirming their doubt. Zhang Zheng-yi was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. Even though he denied all charges in court, nobody believed in him.
In 2019, Liu Li-min, a journalist who had once worked on a show called “Dissecting the Society,” was working on a similar production called “True Standpoint.” Due to a lack of financial support and manpower, he alone was working on every aspect of the show. It took him two years to get back to business after the death of his wife and fellow journalist, Ya-jing. Instead of attending a meeting with an important producer, Li-min arrived at the prison to conduct an interview with mobster Uncle Xiao. While Li-min focused on his interview with the mobster, who had been in prison for twenty years, Zhang Zheng-yi executed the plan he and Uncle Xiao had been plotting for months. We get to know that it was Uncle Xiao who had contacted Li-min, yet he refused to speak when he came to visit him. All of a sudden, Uncle Xiao attacked the guards in the room, and Zhang Zheng-yi joined him. After overpowering the prison guards, Zhang Zheng-yi threatened Li-min to help him escape prison. He hid in his car and safely escaped. Li-min started live-recording his conversation with Zheng-yi. He was aware that it was worth breaking the internet, and he risked his life to grab public attention for his online channel. Zheng-yi soon figured out what was going on, and he threw the phone away. Li-min wanted to show Zheng-yi that he was different from the other journalists. He was not after the numbers but after the truth. Zheng-yi pushed him out of the car and left. Li-min’s encounter with Zheng-yi made him famous in an instant. He enjoyed the attention he was finally getting, and his daughter was overjoyed to watch her father all across the internet.
Li-min remembered how his wife trusted him to investigate the truth and stay true to the show. Pursuing the truth was critical for Ya-jing, and when her body started to slow down as a result of cancer, she hoped for him to carry forward with their goal. After studying multiple reports and learning that Zheng-yi did not try to escape after the murder, Li-min was convinced that he was not the murderer. Even though he knew that the entire world was against Zheng-yi, Li-min decided to pursue the truth and focused on proving his innocence.
How Was Ya-Jing Involved In The Case?
After escaping from prison, Zheng-yi contacts Shih-yun’s brother. Even though her brother spoke against Zheng-yi in public, he did not believe Zheng-yi was responsible for his sister’s death. He informed Zheng-yi that he had found a passbook among her belongings and that the account had $60,000 in it. Along with the passbook, he found a phone that he did not know his sister used. He handed over the phone to Zheng-yi and informed him that the passbook had been destroyed by his father. While Zheng-yi tried unlocking the phone, Li-min personally met with a witness who had knowledge about the night. The old woman lived in an old-age home and was taken care of by her grandson. Her memory was hazy and untrustworthy, but when Li-min questioned her about the Zheng-yi, she lost her cool and apologized for hurting him. When he demanded to know more, the old woman collapsed, and his grandson asked them to leave. Li-min assumed that maybe the witnesses in the case were bribed, and that was the reason why she wanted to apologize to Zheng-yi.
Zheng-yi unlocked the secret phone, and he came across a news proposal written by Ya-jing accusing Zheng-yi of taking drugs during his high school tournament. To find out the truth, he reached out to Li-min and threatened to harm his daughter if he did not disclose the reason why his wife was planning on publishing a fake article. Li-min had no idea about the proposal, but he agreed to study her documents and find out the truth. While going through her planner, he found out that on the day of the murder, she planned to meet “SY&L” exactly where the murder took place. He further discovered that she had procured cocaine while investigating the case. Li-min had never expected his late wife to be involved in the case, but the truth was far from what it appeared to be. He concluded that “SY” signified Shih-Yun, but he was yet to figure out who “L” was. His editor informed him that Ya-jing was investigating a school drug dealing case, but she stopped halfway through, and the news was never published. While Li-min assumed that Shih-yun might have been involved in taking drugs, Zheng-yi found it impossible to believe. They later learned that Shih-yun’s father had encouraged her to mix a particular protein supplement into Zheng-yi’s drink that contained performance-enhancing drugs. He never liked Zheng-yi and wanted to destroy his career to end his relationship with Shih-yun. Shih-yun’s autopsy revealed that she had consumed drugs on the day she died, and he believed that Zheng-yi was the reason why she went astray. Therefore, Ya-jing was on the right track when she wrote the proposal, but what stopped her?
Li-min’s house was ransacked, and the cocaine sample collected by Ya-jing was taken away. Zheng-yi followed the man, but he could not stop him. They tracked down the number of the car and learned that it was located in Fu International. Li-min now knew that the “L” in “SY&L” belonged to Fu Lin. Fu Lin was the administrator of Fu International School, and Li-min believed that he was there with Shih-yun in the washroom before her death. Fu Lin confessed that he was there that night; Shih-yun had asked him to get her drugs for her cousin, Ya-jing. He left the room after delivering it to them. His father later bought the footage from the surveillance camera since it could land his son in immense danger. Zheng-yi lost control of his temper and pulled out a gun. Soon the police reached the scene, Zheng-yi escaped, and Li-min was arrested. Zheng-yi gave the video recording of Fu Lin’s entire confession to Chen-chen. But instead of uploading the part where he confessed to dealing drugs and removed surveillance footage, the editor of True News published on the True StandPoint channel the part where Zheng-yi threatened Fu Lin with a gun. It was established that Zheng-yi was a drug addict who controlled his girlfriend. The news was followed by the death of Chairman Wang and the accident of Zheng-yi’s sister.
When Li-min questioned the editor, he confessed that True News had taken money from Fu International; not only that, they were the ones who started True News in the first place. He stated that Fu Lin was not the murderer, and Ya-jing chose not to publish the story to protect Shih-yun. When Shih-yun got word from Ya-jing that she would write an article on Zheng-yi’s drug test report, she offered to expose the school drug cartel in exchange for not publishing the Zheng-yi article. Shih-yun tried to make Ya-jing believe that there was an operational cartel in school and that she was a part of it. But the more Ya-jing looked into the case, the more she realized there was no major drug cartel at school, and Shih-yun was making everything up to protect Zheng-yi. The money transferred to her account was sent by her to prove that it was all real. Ya-Jing decided to stop investigating the case any further.
‘The Post-Truth World’ Ending Explained: Did Li-Min Find Out The Truth Behind Shih-Yun’s Death?
After realizing that the surveillance cameras were destroyed to cover up the drug deal, Li-min wondered why the old woman had lied. They visited the old-age home and found her grandson, Zeng Jing-an, seated next to his grandmother’s bed. He confessed to committing the murder and stated that he wanted to turn himself in. While taking him to the police station, Jing-an explained that that night he went to the washroom to clean his soda-stained clothes, and that was when he witnessed the drug deal. When he entered the washroom, Shih-yun (who had consumed drugs to prove the drug cartel theory to Ya-jing) panicked and took his phone away from him. She was worried that he would inform the police. In a moment of panic, she hit herself with the object she had in hand to protect herself from Jing-an. His grandmother, who was the janitor, asked him to pour hydrochloric acid on the body to remove all evidence. Zheng-yi could not control his rage; he dragged Jing-an to the ballpark and repeatedly attacked him. No matter how hard Li-min tried to stop him, he was not ready to listen. Li-Min later told the media that Jing-an had taken him hostage and that Zheng-yi was forced to murder Jing-an to protect him. Had Zheng-yi not taken the step, he could have died. It was a protective measure, and he believed Zheng-yi should be forgiven for it. The news channel reported that Jing-an tried to force himself on Shih-yun and killed her by accident.
The truth was far from what Li-Min promoted on his channel. Zheng-yi had lost control of his temper and murdered Jing-an. He took justice into his own hands instead of allowing a fair trial. But Li-min could not accept that the man he had been supporting all this time to prove his innocence was capable of committing murder. Even though he was not responsible for the death of his girlfriend, he was dangerous to society. Instead of upholding the truth, he, too, was trapped in the media justice system. He was responsible for reopening the case, and he focused his entire narrative around Zheng-yi’s innocence. He knew that going against his narrative would tarnish his image in public, so he decided to spread incorrect information instead. In the mid-credit scene, he gets to know who the real murderer is. It was his grandmother, not Jing-an, who accidentally murdered Shih-yun. The audio recording on Shih-yun’s phone and the recording of the first time Li-min met the old woman had one thing in common—the background noise. She suffered from polio and had a cast attached to her leg that made a particular noise. Li-min deleted the audio recording to put an end to the case. Her grandson took the blame on himself to protect her from ridicule and embarrassment. Zeng Jing-an did not deserve to die, and he surely deserved a fair trial. “The Post-Truth World” is about how the media sensationalizes news to the extent that they give out verdicts that affect the mindset of the audience. The media is often involved in producing false news, and that is precisely the reason why the justice system exists. The truth never came out; the audience was fed a version of the truth that Li-min created. Li-min never wanted to become like his peers, but he ended up spreading false news and protecting a criminal.
“The Post-Truth World” is a 2023 Drama Thriller film directed by If Chen.