The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who’s stolen the key and uses the apartment as a retreat.
A tender triptych on loneliness and urban alienation à la Antonioni, Vive l’amour is the breakthrough (and Golden Lion-winning) sophomore feature from Taiwan’s Tsai Ming-liang, one of our greatest directors: a master of contemplative cinema, deadpan humor, and wry melancholy.
An attempt to retreat from a cruelly indifferent city/universe brings together three unwitting companions in despair and exposes the secret devastation in their lives. Even together they are profoundly alone. The camera isolates these individuals, deliberately examining their uniquely wrecked inner selves while never truly allowing them to escape the city that has left them in ruins.
Do you think there was a decisive moment when Tsai looked at Lee Kang-sheng and knew that he'd never make another movie without him? Do you think it was when he was doing those pushups in that dress & boa? I love this film. I love these characters; if I was the type to have heroes, it'd be them. I love this early piece of what develops through Tsai's films as not just world-view but manifesto. And, gah! The beauty...
Urban alienation in modernizing Taiwan through three lonely characters unable to understand themselves or even communicate with each other despite a close, although secret, physical proximity. Materialism, fantasy and pure sensualism proves to be unfulfilling for all of them. Ming-Liang's observation of this is delicate as their traits are slowly developed from their unique habits and quirks.
For many urbanites, city life is often a sad and lonely existence, despite its deceptive allure. Beautiful, bittersweet ironies abound in this movie gem and Mei's climactic breakdown scene alone is worth the price of admission.
It's one of the most heartbreaking films I've ever watch. It felt tremendously personal for me: this thirst for companionship and this self-awareness of one's alienation and the fact that you are truly alone in this world. I see myself in the last shot, also crying of how lonely it is to live alone.
Oh man, that final scene is so relatable. Sometimes the bleakness and general BS of life really does become unbearable, and you just want to go sit in a quiet park and cry your ass off for a little while. Vive la catharsis!
Alone together, as they say: young people who can't afford luxury and haven't found soulmates see if they can fake both in this beautiful drama whose minimalist script sneaks up on you with gradually revealed wisdom. It's looser and less forceful than Tsai's later masterpieces (my votes are for Wayward Cloud and What Time is It There?), but his themes and style were coalescing. Lovely melancholy by any standard.
The sarcophagi metaphor works, and the last minutes are a blazing homage to Antonioni. Principled, but an inevitable absence of characterization in the trio of actors, who are, after all, tropes of the dejected, not Mastroianni, Delon, and Vitti.