6.6/10
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The Wayward Cloud (2005)

Tian bian yi duo yun (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Musical | 18 March 2005 (Taiwan)
Hsiao-Kang, now working as a pornographic actor, meets Shiang-chyi once again. Meanwhile, the city of Taipei faces a water shortage that makes the sales of watermelons skyrocket.

Director:

Ming-liang Tsai

Writer:

Ming-liang Tsai
9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Kang-sheng Lee ... Hsiao-Kang
Shiang-chyi Chen ... Shiang-chyi
Yi-Ching Lu ... Mother
Kuei-Mei Yang ... Taiwanese Porn Actress
Sumomo Yozakura Sumomo Yozakura ... Japanese Porn Star
Huan-Wen Hsiao Huan-Wen Hsiao
Hui-Xun Lin Hui-Xun Lin
Kuo-Xuan Jao Kuo-Xuan Jao
Shu-Mei Hung Shu-Mei Hung
David Yang David Yang
Huan-Wen Wu Huan-Wen Wu
Yu-Wei Chang Yu-Wei Chang
Xun-You Chou Xun-You Chou
Lee-Hsing Huang Lee-Hsing Huang
Tian-Fu Hsu Tian-Fu Hsu
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Storyline

Metaphor, allegory. There's a drought in Taiwan. Watermelon are abundant and become juice, food, something to share with a guest, and an aphrodisiac. In a large building of flats, Hsiao-Kang and Shiang-chyi's paths cross; she knew him when he sold watches, now he acts in pornographic films. She scavenges for plastic water bottles. He bathes in the building's cistern. Fantasy song and dance numbers punctuate the characters' nearly aimless pursuits: she has lost her keys and he helps her find them; he naps in a park, she watches; he smokes on the floor beneath her kitchen table while she sits. His film-making continues. Can they connect? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tsai Ming-liang originally wanted the story to focus on a grandmother who finds her grandson in the porno business, but when Tsai's friend and fellow director Ann Hui was unable to play the role of the grandmother Tsai decided to change the role to a young girl, and thus brought back Chen Shiang-chyi's character from his previous film "What Time Is It There?" See more »

Quotes

Shiang-chyi: [to Hsiao-Kang] Do you still sell watches?
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Connections

References Papillon (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Ban ge yue liang
Performed by Zhong Hong
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User Reviews

 
You Will Never Look At Watermelons The Same Way Again
18 October 2009 | by loganx-2See all my reviews

What a strange, strange, strange film. Strangest thing about this is that it was a huge hit in Taiwan, grossing 20 million dollars when the average film in the country makes under a million. When you see a cover with a girl tongue kissing a watermelon, it is understandable to think "I'll pass", but in this case you would be missing out.

As best I can describe, this is a film about two neighbors who live in an apartment building in Taiwan during an unusually hot summer and inexplicable water shortage. One woman named Shiang-chyi Chen sits around her apartment eating watermelon, while her next door neighbor Kang-sheng Lee makes hardcore porn films (which in the opening scene involve a watermelon between a woman's legs).

The film is mostly minimalist and truly beautiful in its austere compositions and delicate urban electric light; shadows and silhouettes are repeat motif used gorgeously. This is interspersed with scenes of graphic sex, albeit no more than you would see in "Crash", "Short Bus", or "WR. Mysteries of the Organism", but just as explicit. The same long takes which lingered on an empty hallway now assume the position of Peeping Tom.

The detached view of sexuality would seem indebted to films like "Crash" and "Salo" where the body is reduced to a writhing mindless thing with genitals. This becomes especially apparent in the last scene, where a women is unconscious/dead (there is some debate between whether this porn actress is dead or passed out from heat exhaustion), but the show must go on, and the crew literally props her up in a variety of positions so the Lee can have sex with her.

This is all watched by Chen, who discovers only moments before when she finds the porn starlet passed out in the elevator, and consequently what Lee does for a living. Their flirting and relationship build up being the emotional heart of the film, which repeats images of watermelon and bottled water, again and again. Our heroin is often scene rubbing water on her arms while alone, juxtaposed with our hero covered in his and someone' else's sweat. They even share Annie Hall homage, of giddily picking up crabs from the kitchen floor. And they laugh, and they love, and the film swerves back and forth between their two perspectives, meeting in an occasional musical number.

It's also worth mentioning that this is a musical. There are about 5 or 6 full on musical numbers, and not merely spontaneous karaoke affairs like "Happiness Of The Katakari's", but full on "Singing In The Rain" level classical Hollywood show-stoppers (one song includes a crowd with umbrellas) if directed by Tarsem. In one scene a character becomes a merman and serenades the moon from a water tower. In another Alice in Wonderland like giant flowers appear around the statue of a Taiwanese politician. In yet another after our hero is having some trouble getting it up, there is a song where a man wearing a life-size penis-suit is surrounded by dancing girls wearing plastic buckets on their heads, in a public bathroom. I can't stress enough how genuinely fantastic (from a technical film standpoint), and absurdly incredible they are.

The songs themselves are assorted 60's and modern soul and folk sounds from Taiwan, and are all unique and lovely in their own right. Weird as all this sounds, it comes together in a smashingly perverse, erotic, socially critical, and emotionally devastating climax, you might find in a Lars Von Trier film at his most crafty like "The Idiots" or "Dogville" "Goodbye Dragon Inn" Ming Ling Tsai's previous directorial effort was so rigid in never moving it's camera's and keeping it's character's in the dark, it distracted from how formally inventive and cinematically fresh the whole thing was. "The Wayward Cloud" as a follow up has no such difficulties, getting its vitality up and keeping it up. It veers between the common and the theatrical so organically it stops feeling strange when the sing-along, follow the money shots, which flow into images of watermelons floating down a river.

As for what "Wayward Cloud" means, I would say it's a love story. The two lead characters, I later read, were in a previous Ming-liang Tsia's film called, "What Time Is It There?" and this is their "Before Sunset" second chance at love. It would have been simple for Ming-liang Tsia, to make a moody little film, about an alienated women infatuated with an alienated man, doing alienated things, which is basically what the film is. However like a true artist Miang Liang imbues the proceedings with a cinematic spirit, through editing, cinematography, MUSIC, and subdued/wildly theatrical performances that becomes transcendent of the films run-of-the-mill social yearnings for genuine connection in the cold, cruel, world. I can't think of any film as repulsive, arousing, beautiful, fun, and sad, at least not with all those gears running at once like they are here.

In a way I thought it was a happy ending. The couple has come together right? No more lifeless proxy sex with sleeping girls and emotional amateur porn, and no more isolated peeking around the corner from what we desire while waiting for the water (life's lubricant) to return. I don't know, maybe I'm all wrong, and our heroine's tears are from a place of even deeper sadness. Or maybe their courtship was so convincing and extraordinarily arranged that I was rooting for the couple to come together, regardless of their strange and horrible acts.

Only one thing is certain, the watermelon has lost its innocence in the fruit kingdom, it must now go in the adult's only banana and kumquat, sectioned off by beads, part of the produce aisle.


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Details

Country:

France | Taiwan

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

18 March 2005 (Taiwan) See more »

Also Known As:

El sabor de la sandía See more »

Filming Locations:

Kaohsiung, Taiwan See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$456,131
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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