Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Hei Yan Quan
Malaysia/China/Taiwan/France/Austria, 2006. Centre National de la Cinématographie, Dama Orchestra Malaysia, EMI Music Taiwan, Government Information Office of the Republic of China, Homegreen Films, New Crowned Hope, Soudaine Compagnie. Screenplay by Tsai Ming-liang. Cinematography by Pen-jung Liao, Tsai Ming-liang. Produced by Bruno Pesery, Vincent Wang. Production Design by Siong-king Gan, Tien-chueh Lee. Costume Design by Hui-Mei Sun. Film Editing by Sheng-Chang Chen. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Gorgeously felt film slides comfortably into director Tsai Ming-Liang’s oeuvre of boldly atypical films. Taiwanese Norman Atun is visiting Kuala Lumpur and is beaten viciously by a group of thugs. Staggering on the streets, he is rescued by a group of men, one of whom takes his patient’s recovery upon himself personally as he nurses him back to health and develops a deep affection for him. Atun then begins an affair with both a young woman and her mother, eventually moving in with them as they take care of an ailing man (also played by Atun) who is bedridden. The dialogue is sparse and the plot very threadbare; what we get here are scene after long-uninterrupted scene of gravely felt emotions, rich location detail (you always feel like you’ve gone somewhere after his films) and deliciously dry, brilliant humour. Tsai’s mastery with the camera seems to be getting stronger every time he sets out to create something.