Vive L'amour

on September 14, 1994 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   With "Rebels of the Neon God," his startling 1993 debut film about down and out youth in Taipei, Tsai Ming-liang showed signs of becoming one of the most significant Asian filmmakers of the 1990s. The Taiwanese director's second movie, however, is a classic case of one step forward, two steps back. It offers much evidence of Tsai's talent, but this movie somehow gets away from him.
   "Vive L'Amour" focuses on an odd love triangle: May, a desperately lonely real estate saleswoman; Hsaio-kang, a gay man who sells space for people who want their cremated remains stored after their deaths; and Ah-jung, who sells women's clothes on the street. In almost wordless scenes, Tsai evocatively sketches a city that is barren, empty and cold. But "Vive L'Amour" eventually becomes more conventional, before ending on a powerful but tonally uneven 10 minute static shot of one of the characters crying. A fascinating movie but, finally, not as moving as it wants to be.    Written and directed by Tsai Ming-liang. Chinese with English subtitles. A Strand Release. Drama. Unrated. 100 mins.
Tags: Tsai Ming-liang, Chinese, A Strand Release, Drama, Taipei, Asian, homosexual, clothes
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