Afternoon (2015)

TSAI MING-LIANG

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

Original title:  Na Ri Xia Wu

Taiwan, 2015.  Toronto International Film Festival 2015.

You have to be a very big fan of Tsai Ming-Liang’s work to want to watch this filmed conversation between him and his usual lead actor Lee Kang-Shen:  two and a half hours of one static shot, involving the two of them sitting in chairs and carrying on a conversation, is a challenge even for devotees.  Familiarity with the works they reference between personal topics will at least help keep you engaged and give background on the experiences of making films like The River, The Hole, Stray Dogs and Face.  The room they sit in, of what looks like an abandoned or little cared for building, is in stark contrast with the lush greenery and tropical breezes peeking in through the windows that are framing their seats, with Tsai doing most of the talking while Lee responds laconically and with the usual wry placidity he is known for on screen.  Tsai details his increasing age and feeling that he is starting to fade physically, but what is most moving is a constant sense that he is looking for some sense of validation from his longtime friend and collaborator.  It’s not exactly My Dinner With Andre, and feels more like a glorified DVD special feature, but if you’re at all invested in the people involved you might get something out of it.

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