Darkness and Light (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Family Drama  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - Taiwan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Taiwanese filmmaker Chang Tso-chi directed this restrained melodrama about a young girl's love and loss in the northern city of Keelung. Kang-yi is a beautiful, precocious teenager whose brother is mentally challenged and whose father and aunt are blind. With her help as guide and caregiver, her father runs a successful business as a masseur. In spite of her numerous responsibilities, Kang-yi develops a crush on a gangster's handsome godson, Ah Ping, who just moved into her building. The aggressively flirtatious Kang-yi pursues the initially reluctant boy, until eventually they fall in love. Unfortunately she has already been "claimed" by a former steady with connection to a rival mob syndicate. Soon what should have been a mere youthful dalliance suddenly turns into an escalating gang war, until tragedy strikes and Ah-Ping is killed. Not long after a second tragedy strikes Kang-yi. By the end of the film, the formerly vivacious Kang-yi feels with weight of her sundry responsibilities, while longing with all her heart for the return of those she loved the most. Chang served as assistant director to Hou Hsiao Hsien, whose carefully modulated style clearly influenced this film. Chang employs long takes, a static camera, and cutting on an axis to create a contemplative, touching portrait of a young woman's loss of innocence. This film was screened in the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.