Good Men, Good Women (1995)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Drama, Family Drama  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - Japan , Taiwan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jonathan Crow

Hou Hsiao Hsien further explores territory he staked out in the previous two installments of his trilogy. Just as he collapses the distinction between narrative and documentary in The Puppet Master, Hsien includes a dizzying array of story lines that both questions and enhances the veracity of Chiang Bi-yu's biography. Just as he touches on the complex relationship between the past and the present in City of Sadness and The Puppet Master, Hsien foregrounds it in Good Men, Good Women. The past cannot quite stay dead in this film. The primary narrative is a remembrance of a historical moment that the Taiwanese government just as soon forget, while contemporary actress Liang is plagued by phantom faxes, reminders of her own checkered past. In fact, Hsien's entire trilogy is less about events Taiwan's past than how to understand history in general. Good Men, Good Women, along with the other two films, are awash in disparate languages -- Mandarin, Japanese, Taiwanese, Cantonese -- and are filled with references to personal diaries and other forms of personal documentation. All subvert the notion of a single unified historical narrative. This aside, Good Men, Good Women is a stunning film to look at. Hsien moves away from the rigid formalism of his previous works in favor of a somewhat looser style. Overall, Good Men, Good Women is a striking, ambitious work that merits the highest of praises.