It took two viewings, with a headache in between, to understand this film. But few headaches are as worth having. While not as good as Yi Yi or Brighter Summer Day—in fact, it seems purposefully incomplete—it's still stunning how Yang can make a film about so many things at once, with a cast of characters that are always handled tenderly even when they're at their most monstrous.
Intelligent and engrossing - only "urban angst" is far from my favorite theme. Consoling it may be to say to oneself that New York/Paris/Tokyo/Taipei is the center of intelligence and culture while all the rest is the provinces, but life in the modern megalopolis is bound the cripple the spirit, ain't no wonder folk shoot up their offices or go all Taxi Driver.
It pays homage to 'Blow Up', but the disjointed narrative doesn't really engage. There is one scene that I liked. Spoiler. The Eurasian woman terrorizer is caught stealing from a man. He starts to get very cocky about it and takes off his belt to beat her with it. He lights a cigarette and she comes at him like a tiger and stabs the fool. Wipes the smirk off his face.
So coming off the joyful deconstruction of a city from Pacific Rim, I watched the human isolation and turnmoil of a city! Though I did enjoy this much more than Yi-Yi, it just didn't hit me with the intensity I was expecting. Maybe the movie will be made more like clear when I live in a city for more time. Still the comedy and detachment was very well executed. Also, the intricacy of the story keep me interested.
There's so many great things about this film. It's a portrait of an over-industrialized society, but more importantly, a complex and powerful look at the destructive results of human relationships. And oh yeah, it's freaking gorgeous to look at too. A great start to my exploration of Yang and one of the truest films I've ever seen.