the late Edward Yang is considered one of Taiwan's best directors. My first and only experience with Mr. Yang before this movie was Yiyi, his last movie which I much enjoyed. When this moved was being shown at the Los Angeles museum I had to check it out. A story about the lives of two women, it is ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying. It is also too long at a whooping 166 minutes. It mistakes narrative for storytelling and No, they are not the same thing. Narrative is dialogue and action which occur in a story; storytelling takes the narrative along to move the story. Stillness versus action. Caught in a trap, it meanders and it becomes to difficult to decipher what the movie is really about. Taiwanese culture on women it seems like but I can't be sure, the failure of the modern marriage, missed dreams, you don't get what you want but what you need; coming of age' all of this or none of this. Following a business man and his wife over several years, it offers no answers and worse no story. That said, he is no hack and dazzles momentarily with little bursts here and there of pure nouveau camera movement and sharp framing with claustrophobic use of music. Wide lensing is impressive to look at but never adds up to much. The best part or unusual part of the movie is the red herring set up that isn't really a red herring but sets the audience up expectations the movie does not deliver to my satisfaction. It feels like a French New wave picture; one of those Godard or Malle pictures that emphasized women as the leads but likes the heart. For all its ambitions, it is stilted, bridled and clouded behind its fog. It's a movie only the director can understand because he seems to close to it, he misses the necessary long hand which is needed to convey the story and reduces it to a shorthand that is misunderstood. Despite all of my negative connotations (more my trying to come to terms with this opus)it is a worthy effort from the director who made the great family drama Yiyi.
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