Sunday, 28 September 2014

Vive L'Amour [1994]

Though the bustling capital of Taiwan has been a key personality in Tsai’s filmography, his 1st 3 films, viz. Rebels of the Neon God, Vive L’Amour and The River, specifically earned the nomenclature of ‘Taipei Trilogy’. Despite the mushy-sounding title, this was a rather anti-romantic film courtesy it’s stark tone, stylistic choice that was minimalist to the point of being nearly skeletal in terms of emotional or aesthetic ornamentations, and long takes which are bound to make the characters’ loneliness, intense urban alienation, disillusionment, extreme ennui and lack of any direction utterly palpable. The curious slice of life tale comprised of 3 human characters – Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng), a young and suicidal gay salesman, May Lin (Yang Kuei-Mei), a beautiful real-estate agent, and Ah-jung (Chen Chao-jung), a dandy street hawker; and an inanimate one in the form of a lavish duplex apartment. When Ah-jung starts following May, she, on an impulse, takes him along to the empty flat she has the keys to, and the two engage in casual sex. In parallel, Hsiao, who’d got hold of a key to the place, plans to indulge himself in the luxurious flat before slashing his wrist in a failed attempt to kill himself. Over the remainder of the film, the three characters keep frequenting the empty apartment which becomes a symbol of their emptiness and a place to escape their mundane lives. In one bravura moment near the end, a bizarre and idiosyncratic, but quietly poignant ménage à trois gets staged. The final scene, where May’s deep-set despair finally breaks through her façade, was striking for its stripped-down display of emotion.

Director: Tsai Ming-Liang
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Mandarin
Country: Taiwan

No comments: