directed & written by Chun Mong-Hong
starring Chang Chen, Kwai Lunmei
Mandarin, Taiwanese, Cantonese with English subtitles
Update (June 8, 2010): Now available on DVD!
The film starts with Chen Mo (Chang Chen) buying a cake on mother’s day for his wife (Kwai Lunmei) who’s waiting for him at home to eat dinner. Upon exiting the bakery, he finds his car blocked by another one which is double parked next to his. In fact, the plot’s unlikely and somewhat random developments happen because of a series of different cars which happen to only double park next to Chen’s car much to his annoyance. Each time Chen searches for the car’s owner, he encounters a new situation and set of characters. Chen meets an elderly couple, a barber with one working hand, a down on his luck tailor, a pimp and gangsters.
The characters might not sound all that interesting but they all turn out to be quite compelling. A lot of this has to do with the strong acting. We’re given insight into their past lives via conversation or flashback. We also get some flashbacks into Chen’s own life which include his wife. Details given are sometimes scarce but it’s enough to intrigue the audience.
Also noteworthy is the visual style. It’s not flashy in general but the framing is often interesting in a subtle manner. At times it reminded me of a Wong Kar Wai film. As far as I can remember, there isn’t much of a soundtrack except for the song that plays during the ending scenes of the film but that’s not a complaint.
The film is labeled as a black comedy but I don’t know if I would agree. There are some quirky, humourous moments but rarely do they elicit more than a chuckle. It’s definitely more of a drama. Although all the disparate plots & characters are tied up neatly there seemed to be a deeper meaning to the entire film which eluded me. It kept me from fully enjoying it. I would still recommend it but more to fans of low-key indie films and not so much to the casual film-goer who wants something more straight-forward.
There aren’t a lot of online reviews for this film but of the few I’ve read all have been positive and many stating that Chun Mong-Hong is a promising talent to watch for in the future.
This film only spent a week in Montreal due to low tickets sales which is unfortunate. Hopefully the film will do better in Toronto where you can catch it at AMC Yonge & Dundas starting Friday November 27.