Hsiao-Kang sells watches in the streets of Taipei for a living. A few days after his father’s death, he meets a young woman, Shiang-Chyi, who as it turns out leaves for Paris the very next day. He runs around setting all the watches and clocks in Taipei to Paris time.
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Synchronicity: as a beautiful phenomenon made up by beautiful minds in a lonely world; or maybe a desperate mechanism - desperate minds, desperate world. But what is it, then, when our fabricated synchronicities, with all their beauty and loneliness and desperation, just happen to coincide? Why that, that's a Tsai Ming-Liang film. Gorgeous and immersive as always. And my god that fish! Way to break my heart, Tsai...
The first Tsai I've seen that I can call without question a masterpiece. It's those unreturned glances and gestures, those moments of potential happening that shrivel to nothing but memory and lost time that charge this film with its beautiful energy, it moved me nearly to tears. 5/5
Beautifully sad, poetically composed tale of three people whose lives become irrevocably intertwined - a watch seller, his superstitious mother, and the young woman he sells a watch to one fateful day before she flies away to Paris. Traces haunting connections between all three stories, often in single long takes, Tsai Ming-Liang gracefully weaves the stories together into something disarmingly beautiful.
What Time is it There? is a fantastic exploration of alienation and ennui in contemporary society. I paricularly enjoyed the linking of an alienated Antoine and the alienated people of today. Using the "Asian minimalism" long take style, Tsai constructs an always interesting and meaningful form to accompany the themes of the film to great success as his characters search endlessly for existential meaning.