It takes the most distant course to come nearest to yourself
Lin Jing-Jie's debut feature film is at times uplifting, at times making you want to self-discover yourself, other times you feel deep pity towards the characters and the journeys they are going through. The story revolves around three individuals who have all hit a crossroads in their lives; Xiaotang is a sound recorder for films who has just been fired for running late, Acai is a psychiatrist who is guilty for regretting something in his own past, and Xiaoyun is working an office job and the mistress involved in an affair.
All three characters begin on entirely separate roads. Xiaotang is longingly thinking of his ex-girlfriend and decides that he shall go on a trip recording the sounds of Taiwan - a project that the couple had discussed many times before but never got around to doing it. He marks each tape and sends them to the address of his ex-girlfriend, in hopes of curing himself of her and perhaps winning her back.
The only problem is Xiaoyun has moved into the apartment and she is receiving the tapes. At first she hesitates to open them, and inquiring with the landlady about the previous apartment dweller, she decides to open them and see what they are. She begins listening to the random sounds that people often hear every day but often is forgotten within the instant; the sound of the wind swaying wildflowers, a train passing by in the deep country, a fish-market opening in the morning and the chaos it can bring about, the aboriginal Taiwanese singing and dancing at night over a campfire. Having had enough of being the mistress involved in an affair where lonely nights are often and there is no such thing as "love", she walks out on the job in search of finding the sounds that she brings with her on her commute to and from work. Perhaps in blind hope of finding the person who is recording these miraculous sounds.
Acai (played by the brilliant Jia Siao-guo who has a penetrating gaze and a deep mellow voice) is a psychiatrist with a regretful past hanging over his shoulders. He wakes up one morning and whilst donning his suit and tie, he begins to take them off and puts on more casual clothes, taking a trip to the place of remembrance from his past - a lost love who he considers his soulmate who had gotten away and married. He somehow stumbles upon Xiaotang's trip whilst staying at the same hotel and decides to tag along, also hinting about trying to help Xiaotang's own lost love problems.
Eventually everything ties together in an ending that is always excellent to see, and indescribable at the same time, making you want to sit through the credits and have the film sink that much more into your mind. The Most Distant Course is one of those films that makes you feel lost at the start because things are going on in the story as if the viewer was already there, but by the end of it you are wanting to have more. The main premise of the movie is self-discovery, hardships and journeys people go through to find themselves, but at the same time Lin Jing-Jie has really enforced the importance of sound within it. If possible, I highly recommend to watch this movie with a great sound system or high quality headphones.
It won't certainly be a movie for everyone; but for those who are at a crossroads in their life, for those who have been through it, or for those who are about to face it.. it is worthwhile to track this down and sit through it. It might make you want to take a trip of your own in a way to connect back to yourself.
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