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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
To my surprise this movie hasn't been reviewed, and from what I gather from other external reviews either they think its empty and boring, or believe that Hou Hsiao-Hsien has gone wrong. Neither is true.
Hou has matured his style over the years, and instead of staying with the same historic movies he has moved to the present where he is needed the most. Finally we can see a depiction of the youth's life, which is common to the rest of the modern world, and we see the influence of the west, the decadence of a culture, the fast extinguishing life of a young woman. All seen through an objective heart, not judging or celebrating, but offering comprehension. Very often do we see movies made by the same young people or for commercial needs, when they are more interested in suprising you or make it a music video, and even when Hou uses music a lot he doesn't subordinate his camera or story to it.
Maybe it hasn't had a proper release, but anyone with a chance to see it shouldn't miss it. This is a serious and difficult film, and even if you enjoy it for the first time (which is not common), you'll have to repeat the viewings to understand that the most valuable thing in the movie is Time, and Hou is a filmmaker in the true sense, a sculptor in time as Tarkovsky would had called him.
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