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A Criminally Ignored, Yet Exceptional Dramatic Thriller
A killer finds shelter in the home of a blind woman without her knowledge. The character development is very good and the suspense sequences are great. Dialogue is minimal, thus being utilized only when necessary. Camera-work is excellent (especially the train station sequences), silence is ubiquitous, and the use of sunlight is astonishing. The script is structured in such a way that apparently insignificant events become more important as the film progresses, which provides for some very clever plot developments. Deliberately-paced but always engaging, this is a very quiet, rare gem that fulfills its potential in contributing a unique, satisfying experience.
"Waiting In the Dark" can best be described as a hybrid between art-house and mainstream cinema. The first hour almost exclusively plays to the art-house crowd, employing a very slow tempo as it showcases the everyday lives of the two lead characters. The plights of the blind girl are very enjoyable to watch because they are executed in interesting ways. For example, her yearning to reunite with her mother are played out through projected images of what she always dreamed her mother would wear in terms of clothing, even when a particular situation calls for something completely different. In like manner, her fear of venturing alone into the outside world is exceptionally portrayed through similar means. The workplace persecution of the male lead is more basic, but the situation will likely succeed in getting a slight rise out of the viewer.
The latter half transitions to a more mainstream project as the relationship between the leads is fleshed out and the thriller elements are brought to a climax. One notable series of images is related to the train station sequence. There is an important event that is shown in pieces throughout the movie, and what makes this film so clever is that the event is shown from completely different camera angles. This gives the viewer a piece of the puzzle at a time until it eventually shows everything that happened. I must say, the climactic train sequence actually had my hairs standing on end. Really cool stuff.
The cinematography is awesome. As mentioned earlier, the use of sunlight is sweet. The filmmakers must have chosen an emphasis on sunlight as a juxtaposition of blindness, and it works really well. One moment, in particular, has the girl standing at her door (about to venture out into the world) as the camera slowly moves in behind her until the shining sun engulfs the entirety of the screen. Absolutely gorgeous moment that I've used as my computer desktop.
Now, Wilson Chen is not necessarily known for his acting prowess, but he holds his own in this film. Nothing brilliant, but a good performance. It's Rena Tanaka who steals the show with her exceptional acting ability. There's not a moment of doubt that her character is blind because her use of eye gazing and physical mannerisms are spot on. She's also one hell of a cryer with little in terms of overzealous wailing in favor of quiet tear-rolling. I'm definitely going to watch more films with this talented actress.
In conclusion, this is one of the best films of 2006, in the entire world. It's a real shame that stuff like "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams" gets 5,832 IMDb votes while this gem of a film only gets 64, even though it runs circles around "Dreams" in terms of quality film-making. That's what I call a "Total Joke" folks. Listen, if you're a fan of slow-paced dramas, you need to see this. Blind buy it if you have to. It's most definitely worth it.
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