The ultra cool, hyper stylish beginning of this film from Taiwanese director Hou Hsia-Hsien is typically striking, a slowed down tracking shot following a women striding across a footbridge that then halts as she descends down a footbridge and away from the camera, all of which is accompanied by a dull techno throb that sounds like it could be coming from the next room. It could easily be an advertisement for perfume, or an exert from a Wong Kar Wai film, the image is so sumptuous and stylish yet still feels imbued with so much meaning. It’s an incredibly slow moving film, stylistically echoing the inertia of Vicky, the impossibly gorgeous Shu Qi, who exists between two men, her possessive abusive young boyfriend and an older mobster. The film is told via voiceover ten years on, via multiple flashbacks that sometimes occur mid flashback, providing a strange surreal sense of confusion as to when anything actually occurs. Yet it doesn’ really matter as Vicky dances the nights away, smokes cigarettes incessantly, purposely drifting, existing on the surface, yet still somehow searching for her self, yet having no concept of how or where to look. Hou Hsia-Hsian’ film captures exquisitely subtle moments to propel the narrative, face prints in the snow, the washing of her hair, the drifting evaporation of cigarette smoke all emphasising the transience of youth. It’s an exquisite work, a touching, strikingly visual tone poem that manages to capture those indescribable feelings restlessness and tap into emotions that words don’ yet exist for.
Bob Baker Fish