Taipei Story (1985)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 117 min.  |   Countries - Taiwan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Edward Yang's brilliant Taipei Story starts with an empty, open space, an apartment that a couple is considering. It's an everyday, commonplace scene, yet Yang somehow imbues it with a palpable yet subtle sense of discomfort, of things being incomplete and in a state of change -- but whether the change is for the better or the worse is hard to pinpoint, and the audience senses the incompleteness that the characters themselves are feeling. Yang is a master at creating tension from such settings, and at using visuals to get at the inner lives of his characters; indeed, in Taipei, Qin's sunglasses at times become a character in their own right (or rather an expression of part of Qin's character). Taipei's people are rootless and unsatisfied, seeking a self-definition that seems forever beyond their reach, and there's a sadness and an anger that lurks beneath their surfaces. They sometimes mask their emotions with remoteness or placidity, but the confusion and discontent remain nonetheless. All of this may sound like heavy going, but Yang's touch, while deliberate, is not overpowering, and he infuses the film with humor (especially of the ironic sort). If things are not tied together neatly, they still fit together in a way that feels inevitable and right. Taipei is a challenging and at times difficult film, but it is richly rewarding.