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Forest fires burn in Sumatra; a smoke covers Kuala Lumpur. Grifters beat an immigrant day laborer and leave him on the streets. Rawang, a young man, finds him, carries him home, cares for him, and sleeps next to him. In a loft above lives a waitress. She sometimes provides care and attention. More violence seems a constant possibility. They find another man abandoned on the street, paralyzed. They carry him. While no one speaks to each other, sounds dominate: coughing, cooking, coupling, opening bags; music and news reports on a radio, the rattle and buzz of a restaurant. It's dark in the city at night. We see down hallways, through doors, down alleys. Who sleeps with whom? Written by
Let me start off by saying I am a Tsai Ming-Liang fan, having seen just about all of his films. He is a master of the long shot, as well as telling a story with minimal dialogue. This story is about a street person (Tsai's muse Lee Kang-Sheng), who gets beaten up by a gang. He gets rescued by Bangaladeshi immigrants, who take him back to where they live (it is not a home, more like a construction site). They nurse him back to health. His character (the characters are not named, an interesting way of telling the story) meets and also spends time with a waitress (Chen Shang-Chyi, a pretty veteran of Liang films). This causes jealousy, both with the immigrant who saved him and the mother of the waitress. The mother and daughter also care for an invalid, bed ridden brother, who is also played by Lee Kang-Sheng. This story, set in Tsai's home country of Malaysia, is indeed oddly touching, an exploration of loneliness, the need for human contact, jealousy and survival. This is not for everyone, certainly not lovers of action and fast moving films. All of Tsai's films are slow and methodical, and this one has a heart. He is fairly unique in his storytelling, I like that emotions can be conveyed with so little said. I always liked the combination of Keng-Shang and Shang-Chyi as a couple in his films, they seem very comfortable with each other. That being said, check out these Tsai films first for a primer into his style: "The River", "What Time Is It There" and "The Hole". I liked this, the film has heart.
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