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 ... See full summary »
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Ah Jie lost everything in the stock market due to a severe economic crisis. He spends his days in his sealed apartment, smoking joints and looking after the marijuana plants that he ... See full summary »
In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his ... See full summary »
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
Tsai Ming Liang's "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" is yet another of those Spartan-like, minimalist Asian films (this one happens to be Chinese) that is composed almost entirely of single-take medium and long shots (this movie would have made Andre Bazin and his fellow theorists at Cahiers du Cinema jump for joy, or, at the very least, purr with contentment). The problem with such a style, beyond testing the patience of the audience, is that it distances us so much from what is happening on screen that we soon become dispassionate observers rather than the engaged participants we need to be if we are to become fully enveloped in the story. In fact, most of the time we can't figure out who anybody is or why we should be interested in anything that is going on in their lives. If this movie proves anything, it is just how essential close-ups and inter-scene cutting can be in helping us to identify with and care about a character and the situation he's going through.
As far as I can tell, the theme is about a handful of urban youth who feel isolated and alienated from one another and the world around them, but who are taking some faltering steps towards reaching out and bridging that gap, mainly through touching. But the almost total lack of dialogue and the chillingly clinical style of film-making make it frankly impossible for us to tell WHAT the movie makers' intentions might be.
There are a few erotically-charged moments in the film, but overall "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" is an excursion into tedium that gives "art films" a bad name.
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