Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Wayward Cloud [2005]

The Wayward Cloud was a pseudo-sequel to his masterful What Time is it There? as the two key protagonists from the earlier film returned here, even though they were poles apart thematically, tonally and stylistically. Using environmental crisis as the springboard, Tsai made an alternately vibrant, madcap and dreary film that can be classified, in absence of a better word, as weird. Hsaio-Kang (Lee Kang-sheng), formerly a street hawker selling watches, is now a puppet in adult films, while Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) is back from Paris; meanwhile Taiwan is in the middle of an acute water shortage prompting the government and media to promote watermelons as a viable alternative. The drab, directionless, vacuous and lonely existences of the two characters suddenly get a kick upon their chance encounter in a park, and a strange liaison that borders between love and lust ensues. Tsai valiantly experimented with form (the dull, muted and colorless narrative, portraying the ‘real’, is regularly punctuated with flamboyant, colourful and farcical ‘musical’ sequences, reminiscent of Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark) and content (even those attuned to Tsai’s idiosyncratic style and flair for dry humour would be left flummoxed by the outlandish developments, while moralists are sure to be outraged by the queasy trip). The film reinforced Tsai’s pet themes of urban alienation, ennui, loneliness and longing for human connection, and also made forays into such topics as moral questions on pornography, exploitation, voyeurism and a twisted take on tender romance; however, Tsai’s audacity aside, the end result was rather oblique, unconvincing and bizarre, making this an alternately provocative and confounding watch.

Director: Tsai Ming-Liang
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Musical/Experimental Film
Language: Mandarin
Country: Taiwan

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