Taipei Story (1985)

9 08 2008

Considering the condition in which the film itself is in, it is rather difficult to enjoy this, at least in the conventional sense. Still one can appreciate, at the very least, how great the film could be if only it were given some legitimate restoration. For what it is in it’s current state, Taipei Story is a wonderful bit of Antonioni type drama. The whole nature of depicting a very quiet and complicated relationship within the marvels of modern society will inevitably remind one of Antonioni’s trilogy. In a similar vein, this does seem to anticipate the stripped-down narratives fueled by romantic relationships in Tsai’s most recent efforts.

Lung, a former member of Taiwan’s little league baseball team, has now grown up and become the operator of a fabric business. He lives with his childhood love Ah-chin, a perfect example of a “modern” girl in Taiwan, albeit one that comes from a very traditional background. The young couple have hopes of getting on the right track (one may assume they have only recently graduated from college) but things don’t go as planned. Ah-chin is bothered by Lung’s previous relationships, and this irritations leads her to retreat to her gang of equally modernized (and westernized) friends.

The themes of alienation and displacement brought on by the evolution of society and technology is not all too original. It isn’t exactly a problem for me, but it doesn’t really help out what is already borderline unwatchable, but only because of the source print. It is a true tragedy that this film’s life on digital home video seems so far away, because it ideally fits into a sub-genre (of sorts) that is so wildly popular, at least among arthouse nerds. Of course, people have been craving more of Yang’s work on DVD for a long time, but this one seems as far away as Yi Yi as Yang would get. Basically, this all just to say that the film lacks the overly-gentle approach of Yang’s later film, as well as the sprawling scope. This is much more intimate and personal (again closer to Tsai’s recent films) but just as exquisitely crafted.

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