An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life.An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life.An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life.
Stray Dogs is the most recent film by Ming-Liang Tsai, and well Stray Dogs doesn't have a plot, at least not the conventional sense. The film instead follows the lives of a few different characters, and tries to capture them as they are. The film brings the audience close to these characters and let's the audience understand them for what they are. To say that Stray Dogs takes its time is an understatement, every single scene in the film is slow and is stretched to the very limit of filmmaking. And believe me when I say that the scenes are at their limits. There are two scenes in the film that go on for so long that it exceeded not only anything else I had seen in any film, but they exceeded anything I thought possible. There is something very hypnotic about these scenes, Ming-Liang Tsai forces the audience to just stare at these characters for minutes on end as we soak in their facial expressions and slowly become one with them. It is something that is truly gorgeous and needs to be seen to be understood.
If the actors in Stray Dogs were bad or even just average the film would be completely unwatchable, but luckily for us they are all fantastic. Especially Kang-sheng Lee, who plays the father of a small homeless family. (Kang-sheng Lee worked with Ming Liang-Tsai on several of his films.) He gives one of the most enduring and real performances I have ever seen. Another thing that's needs to be great for the film to work is the cinematography, which is also fantastic. The film is shot in a very matter-of-fact way, things are just shown as they are. The camera only a moves a handful amount of times in a film that's over two hours long. And the colors and lighting are just wonderful. Overall Stray Dogs is one of the most refreshing films I've seen in a long time, and if you think you can handle a really, really slow paced film, with a very unconventional narrative structure. I would highly recommend Stray Dogs.
- May 10, 2016