Lung, an operator of a fabric business and former member of the national Little League team, lives with his old childhood sweetheart Ah-chin, a westernized professional woman who grew up in a traditional family. Although they live together, Ah-chin is weary of Lung’s past liaison with another girl.
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Of the four Yang films I've seen, this is loosest, but his loving eye comes through: actions that may seem paradoxical are instead human in a set of characters who have been deposited into adulthood and left to grapple with a mixture of indecision, insecurity, and regret. Note the bookended structure: empty rooms that promise a new life, but finally with a guarded distrust that the promise can be fulfilled.
A breathtaking and utterly controlled vision of divided social space, divided generational gestalt, divided cultural legacy, divided couples, and divided souls (the selves, here, are indeed perilously divided from themselves). A humbling level of stylistic / formal control and structural sophistication here, belying the fact that this is merely Yang's second feature proper. This is a bleak, high-impact knockout.
'Look at these new cars, where did they come from?' Shattering, a great film from Edward Yang, my first exposure to his work and I am already seeing why people call him one of the masters. The attention to detail within subtle direction makes the emotions conjured by Yang overwhelming. HHH is great, I never thought of him as an actor but he does a fine job, but the city is the star of this one, really. 5/5
Yang was a fine director, but few subjects duller for me than urban angst. Yet how he adored it! It'd help if anyone in Taipei Story had personality - nope, all bored poker-faced mopers roaming through neon-lit tedium. Pretty empty. And ends with a killing, naturally. Of the four Yang films I've seen, three end with a quiet angry little guy killing someone with a knife - the fourth with a guy blowing his brains out.
For the capital of a country divided between unification and independence, any dream of panacea is eviscerated amidst disposable careers, vacuous friends and consumerist isolation in a cimmerian wasteland of modernization. All relationships are as vacant as the commodified walls of a rented working space. A jock is buried in impotent rage with no future while a nerd becomes fodder for the machine with no history.
Yang's formal and unwavering gaze follows the doomed fate of two characters navigating a cold, indifferent urban landscape in a world that seems to be always moving on without them. At one point, a character asks, "Is [drinking] your habit or your hobby?" In this light, what unfolds over the course of the film as a series of unconnected quotidian tragedies begins to look inevitable and fatalistic.
Digital 4K Restoration, Taipei in a film. Yang's attempt to formulate an all-around observation of the social deluge and distinctions in modernity as a whole, through the interlocking antithesis of class, generation, gender, and cultural penetration.
" It is only a brief hope, and it will make you feel like a new start." (Lung on marriage, and America)