What Time Is It There?

What Time Is It There? ★★★★½

Wish I knew how to write about how Tsai uses the frame, making space and silence mold to the affective textures of his subjects; how he creates subtle humor and grief seemingly in a vacuum, where perhaps the most deliberate visual signal is a shrine’s artery-red glow; how he simulates spontaneity and delicately orchestrates the relationships between his players. There’s a sequence where the triptych of the mother, the son, and the tourist coalesces into a series of physical connections that are 1. macabre yet erotic, 2. bleakly impersonal, and 3. fragile, tender, then quietly heartbreaking. 

Also: the film makes an unanticipated cinematic parallel between itself and The 400 Blows (the son stealing a clock, Antoine stealing a milk bottle)—then features Jean-Pierre Léaud in a cameo where he gives the tourist his phone number, further dissolving the temporal boundaries between Paris and Taipei.

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