Taipei. A voice off-camera looks back ten years to 2000, when Vicky was in an on-again off-again relationship with Hao-Hao. She's young, lovely, and aimless. He's a slacker. Cigarettes and ... See full summary »
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Taipei. A voice off-camera looks back ten years to 2000, when Vicky was in an on-again off-again relationship with Hao-Hao. She's young, lovely, and aimless. He's a slacker. Cigarettes and alcohol fuel her nights. We see bits of her life: when Hao-Hao steals his father's Rolex and the police detain them; when she gets a job as a club hostess, where she meets Jack, who becomes her patron and protector; when Hao-Hao comes to the club, insisting on talking to her; when she visits Yubari, Japan, for its film festival in the dead of winter; when Jack must go to Japan to straighten out trouble caused by one of his acolytes. Does Vicky have any expectations? Does time simply pass? Written by
Vicky describes this period of time as being hypnotized or under a spell...HHH is successful in casting that spell on his audience.
The mood in which I left after viewing Millennium Mambo was a heavy sort of depression. I felt as if I had experienced, or re-experienced through memory, events causing one to give in to hopelessness; to accept being dominated by another. In retrospect, Vicky describes this period of time as being hypnotized or under a spell. Hou Hsiao-hsien is successful in casting that spell on his audience. Three aspects of the film lend to this success: the non-sequential unfolding of events, the use of long-takes from a more or less distant perspective, and the sound track. One of the first glimpses into Vicky¡¯s life with Ah Hao is at a time in their relationship when she has already given up. From here we are taken further back to various points in their relationship. There is no story per se, she is simply caught in this cycle of him finding her and her leaving, yet we do learn how she ended up in this cycle. There was a time when she resisted his advances, when she scolded his dangerous drug use, a time before she felt trapped. Knowing the end result of their relationship maintains a sense of hopelessness throughout the film. It is this constant sense of hopelessness, with no comic relief or side story to lift the weight of the mood, that causes the audience to experience the spell she is remembering. ¡°Cold, and colder, that was what I demanded of my camera¡± When I read this quote I immediately recalled the scene I mentioned above, when Vicky endures Ah Hao¡¯s advances, sexual or otherwise, annoyed, but in complete submission and as a matter of routine. The camera follows him to the floor, straining to see through the table obstructing the view but not getting any closer. While this may have been a mixture of ¡°pathos and eros¡± as Ah Hao smelled her body for the scent of other men it was indeed a disturbing violation that the camera forced the audience to participate in by calmly looking on. Other long-takes, showing two or more simultaneous independent actions, helped to invoke her sense of loneliness and the monotony of her life as the minutes dragged. Thirdly, the soundtrack, with its hypnotic beat and mix of high-pitched, eerie sounds, matched the repetition of events played out on the screen. He was the DJ, controlling the sounds added over the same, never-ending rhythm. This is what she lived with, day in and day out. Even as she is walking alone over the bridge, the same music is playing in her head.
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