IMDb > What Time Is It Over There? (2001)
Ni na bian ji dian
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What Time Is It Over There? (2001) More at IMDbPro »Ni na bian ji dian (original title)

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What Time Is It Over There? -- Open-ended Trailer from Wellspring Media
What Time Is It Over There? -- HV Post


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Release Date:
26 September 2001 (France) See more »
When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection... See more » | Add synopsis »
12 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Mystery Made Manifest (Almost) See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order)
Kang-sheng Lee ... Hsiao-kang
Shiang-chyi Chen ... Shiang-chyi
Yi-Ching Lu ... Mother
Tien Miao ... Father
Cecilia Yip ... Woman in Paris
Chao-jung Chen ... Man in Subway Station
Guei Tsai ... Prostitute
Arthur Nauzyciel ... Man at Phone Booth
David Ganansia ... Man at Restaurant

Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Jean-Pierre / Man at the Cemetery

Directed by
Ming-liang Tsai 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ming-liang Tsai 
Pi-ying Yang 

Produced by
Laurence Picollec .... producer
Bruno Pésery .... executive producer
Cinematography by
Benoît Delhomme 
Film Editing by
Sheng-Chang Chen 
Production Design by
Timmy Yip  (as Kam Tim Yip)
Production Management
Michel Imbert .... location production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ming-Tai Wang .... assistant director
Vincent Wang .... first assistant director
Art Department
Bernard Bridon .... property master
Camera and Electrical Department
Julie Conte .... video assistant
Arnaud Gabriel .... second assistant camera
Xavier Tauveron .... first assistant camera
Casting Department
Marie-Sylvie Caillierez .... extras casting
Editorial Department
Magalie Léonard .... color grader
Other crew
Harold Manning .... location scouting
Laurence Picollec .... finance

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Ni na bian ji dian" - Taiwan (original title)
"What Time Is It There?" - International (English title)
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116 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
Mystery Made Manifest (Almost), 14 February 2002
Author: bluesdoctor from A Place is Just A Place

The invisible thread of time, strong as steel wire, fragile as spider web, binds us together, pulls us apart. Here, parallel plots: the young son pining for an absent love, the old mother mourning for the newly dead, both violate time, long across uncrossable voids, she into the past, he, the future, their loneliness unbridgeable.

The style is formal, premeditated, the story told in small details. To enlarge these details, to make the silent shout, Mr. Tsai eliminates all distractions: the smallest actions unfold in the midst of extended static shots, big chunks of real-time, which swallow actions and actors whole, engulfing them in an empty sea of possibility, endless time. The camera never blinks.

It's a narrative of still pictures, minimal dialogue, now like Jacques Tati, now Jim Jarmusch, pathos and absurdity seamlessly mixed, inseparable. The Taiwanese, relatively recent entrants into modernity, still feel the numbness, the ugliness and pain.

Rough outline: A young man (Lee Kang-Sheng) sells watches on the sidewalks of Taipei. His father dies. A young woman (Chen Shiang-Chyi) nags him into selling her his own watch just before she departs for Paris. Traditional rites and superstitions are carried out to honor, appease, and entice the spirit of the dead. His mother (Lu Yi-Ching) goes crazy with grief. He starts setting every clock in sight to Parisian time; he mocks his mother's preoccupation even as he's lost in his own. Time stops for both mother and son. They're stuck. The young woman, too, is stuck. Alone in Paris, she starves for company, misses the young man who sold her the watch, and disappears into the anomie of the modern city. Each of the three stumbles down a valley of humiliation and despair into his or her own catharsis, reattaching miserably to the here and now, relinquishing the torment of the ideal and eternal. Time resumes.

Almost every shot holds a fascination, intimates meanings, symbolism; the ineffable is almost made manifest. The woman dreams on as the city steals everything she has; her suitcase floats by as in a dream (hers or ours?). The walls of her tiny hotel room rumble like the bowels of a large beast. A man with a cane in front of a Ferris wheel looks extremely Fellini-esque, or perhaps a bit like an Asian Salvador Dali? (his weary face recalls that of the dead father). Luminescent fish swim impassively in the darkness of the dead man's apartment. Images of i The 400 Blows recur; its dispossessed echo the film's own. There are too many associations, fleeting and vague, ghosting each scene to effectively ever chronicle or analytically disentangle. The movie bears repeat viewing.

Here's that magic of image, of seeing, that can't really be reduced to words, described, or explained. It casts a spell, takes us out of time as well.

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