A Confucian Confusion (1995)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Family Drama, Political Drama  |   Run Time - 133 min.  |   Countries - Taiwan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

As is often the case with Edward Yang's films, the city of Taipei is as much a character in A Confucian Confusion as any of the roles played by human beings. In Yang's satirical view, Taipei may be shiny, clean and rich, but it's also sterile, mirroring the problems of many of the film's characters: their lives seem to gleam, but on the inside they're rather empty. Yet it is to Yang's credit that he doesn't harp on this, or totally condemn it; he's certainly disapproving, but also quite amused. You get the feeling that he might be a little disappointed if some of his self-involved characters actually wised up and changed their ways...even as he is encouraging them to do that very thing. Yang is smart to set his little morality/immorality play in the confines of a frenetic farce; he makes his points but doesn't overplay them, and the hysterical pacing of the film makes things go down very easily with viewers. He also provides dialogue that, even in translation, is spot-on, making its statements economically and entertainingly without becoming didactic. And Yang's visual sense is every bit as expert as his dialogue, a valuable component in telling the story in an unusual yet interesting manner. Although very specifically Taiwanese, A Confucian Confusion's truths transcend its setting and will resonate with viewers in many countries.