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The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's stolen the key and uses the apartment as a retreat. Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the best of Tsai Ming-liang's glacial case studies of contemporary isolation and alienation in Taipei/the world, VIVE L'AMOUR is gripping in spite of it's extreme slowness (his work shares this quality with Tarkovsky or Antonioni). Tsai's work is superficially very chilly and ultimately heartbreaking - though Tsai also (as always) manages to also sneak in a little deadpan humor, which in this case includes the rather ironic translated title.
Three young, outwardly successful Taiwanese happen to cross paths - unknowingly at first - in the empty Taipei condominium one (a real estate agent) is attempting to sell. Through a bare minimum in dialogue
VIVE L'AMOUR is essentially a silent film until about 20 minutes in -
Tsai charts their isolation and fumbling attempts at various kinds of human connection and finding some personal sort of peace. Tsai's scenario and characters are globalized, stripped of most marks of identity, and very much adrift, and their growth (or lack of it) is communicated through sparse forms of acting, direction and cinematography that reinvents seemingly antiquated forms of film-making (again, silent film) into a new-millennial era. In this, Tsai crafts a sort of haunted, elegaic drama that slides around the limitations of language, inhabiting a dreamlike, if also very dark, psychological territory.
Typically Tsai uses no musical score, and the dialog is very sparse, with the film favoring the natural sound of whatever environment the characters find themselves in, so the many memorable scenes do tend to sneak up on you. The finale is unforgettable.
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