Reviews of I Don't Want to Sleep Alone
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Starting with this, my third from Tsai, am I now really starting to ‘get’ him as a filmmaker: depicting life, even more intimately than his contemporary Yang, with all its trivialities (Vive l’amour), and all the emotions to be found even in those such miniscule worldly actions (Goodbye, Dragon Inn). This work in particular sees a shift from Tsai’s usual setting of confined Taiwan, to humid Southeast Asia, with grimy but authentic street-level backdrops – almost neorealist in flavour – that are also rather stunningly composed – the film’s climactic, dense haze later ushering and culminating in a beautifully poignant finale in particular. An often striking geo-social portrait of fleeting connections; quite admirable.
Two postscripts: Tsai’s films really seem to have some of the best titles; and, worth noting is this arguably also being, coincidentally, contiguous to other major contributions from Asian cinema that same year portraying urban identity: Weerasethakul’s Sang sattawat, and possibly – though I’ve personally yet to see it – Jia’s Still Life.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
All the familiar Ming-Liang Tsai tics are here: the unmoving camera, long takes, minimal dialogue, decrepit urban environments, themes of isolation, ubiquitous water, uncomfortable sexual situations, ultra-dry humor, and of course, Kang-sheng Lee, in a double role no less (has there ever been a more steadfast actor/director relationship? 8 feature films and all starring Lee). Also back is frequent Tsai actress Shiang-chyi Chen. And the mysterious haze at the end of the film recalls similar crises in The Hole and The Wayward Cloud.
I always get so much out of Tsai’s films, and despite their similarities, they all seem entirely separate to me. I find his world an utterly fascinating place to be. I actually thought beforehand that this might be the movie that would make me start to lose interest, because it had a rather lukewarm reception. But I loved it. Again, he’s exploring clumsy attempts at attaining intimacy, but somehow it seems fresh every time. He always makes this act of reaching out to someone both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s one of his more straightforward works, without the gimmickyness of Wayward Cloud or the impenetrability of Goodbye Dragon Inn. There are some haunting images, most notably in the flooded construction site (an incredible location), and there’s some wonderful use of music.
As always, Tsai is most definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re already a fan, this one is quite rewarding and hypnotic. I look forward to revisiting it.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.