A bankrupt Taiwanese man loses everything incl. girlfriend. He still has a key to his luxury condo, where he grows and smokes marijuana. He spends time with a woman on suicide hotline and a lingerie clad woman selling cigarettes etc.
While never-ending rain and a strange disease spread by cockroaches ravage Taiwan, a plumber makes a hole between two apartments and the inhabitants of each form a unique connection, enacted in musical numbers.
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 secretly grows in his wardrobe. In desperation, he calls a suicide helpline and gets to know Chyi, whose sweet and gentle voice causes him to fall in love with his fantasized image of her. He tries to ask her out but is repeatedly rejected. He begins projecting his fantasy of Chyi on Shin, the new girl working at the betel nut stall downstairs. Shin is always sexily dressed in order to lure male customers. Ah Jie becomes closer to her and soon the two of them sink into a world of erotic and psychedelic pleasures. At the same time, Ah Jie begins to stalk Chyi.Written by
Gorgeous. I was just expecting more Tsai Ming Liang super-freaky alienation porn, full of campy soul music interjections, but this was surprisingly emotional and ethereal. Unlike Antonini and even Tsai (his mentor) actor turned director Kang-sheng Lee understands expressing alienation doesn't mean every environment must be cold, dreary, and colorless. The world of "Help Me Eros" is neon lit from start to finish like a minimalist version of Coppola's "One From The Heart" with every frame worthy of being hung in a museum. The bright colors of Lee's world are indeed beautiful but they create a fake rainbow, like the manufactured brightness of a red-light district.
A stockbroker lost all of his money for reasons that are never disclosed, sits in his apartment "Leaving Los Vegas" style watching his world fall apart one trip to the pawn shop at a time. He smokes joints constantly and tends his marijuana plants growing his closet, the only living things in his apartment. He calls a suicide hotline, where he has feelings and fantasies for a specific operator and the two begin communicating via email.
This woman and her life with her chef husband who feeds her exotic animals like Ostrich and Eel to distract her from their non-existent sex life, forms the main sub-plot as these two lonely souls seek connection. In between this our hero falls in lust with several girls who sell some kind of nuts outside of his building in enticing outfits to attract repeat clients/johns. There are two sex scenes, neither as graphic or as numerous as Wayward Cloud's or Nine Song's, and both arising within a context of the story, not as just a rhythmic "device" or stylistic detour. The music far from being inorganic to the script, is pulsating electronic or soothingly acoustic and vulnerable, each underscoring the specific emotions of longing, regret, exhilaration, and emptiness that the rest of the film echoes.
Shots of standing in a moving car through the sun roof as the city flood by in a blur, of beautiful Tai girls lounging around a neon lobby like cat's on a hot day, and a disturbing but tasteful bathtub full of eels, linger and don't dislodge themselves from memory easily. Kang-sheng Lee's themes are not original, but his delivery is immaculate, his fantasies genuinely erotic(something Tsai's stilted humping though more naturalistic rarely achieves, or seeks to), and his art design courteousy of Tsai himself, a joy for the eyes.
Searching for affection and finding only sex, waiting for the sun and seeing only halogen and strobe, sitting in a deserted cafe in front of a River called "Love River"(according to an observant IMDb writer from Indonesia) and trying not to appear lonely, have rarely seemed so convincing or heartfelt. Like Movern Callar, the film is not the plot, but the sensual accumulations of sights and sounds, that drown the viewer like a warm bath. Dryly deadpan, minimal dialog, glowing with life, and cinematic daring, "Help Me Eros", would along with "Wayward Cloud" serve as perfect introductions to Taiwan's burgeoning avant garde aesthetics, which if you are not familiar with you need to see for yourself.
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