Film description
Tsai Ming - Liang
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What Time Is It There?
Ni na bian ji dian
dir. Tsai Ming-Liang / Tajwan, France 2001 / 116’
subtitles: Polish and English
retrospective: Tsai Ming-Liang


Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Lu Yi-chin, Miao Tien, Cecilia Yip, Jean-Pierre Léaud

Film description

No other film by Tsai has expressed longitude more fully. Hsiao-kang's indefinite longing for a casually met girl whom he sold a watch and who left for Paris, desperate longing for his mother (another return to the motif of family), for his late father, finally the director's longing for one beautiful moment in the history of cinema. Clocks and time are omnipresent in this film. The obsessed Hsiao-kang sets all clocks in Taipei to Parisian time. His mother is convinced that his father's spirit is afraid of light and lives in a different time zone, so she adapts her life to the ghost's rhythm.

But the longing will remain unsatisfied - Paris is strange and sad, conjuring time brings no relief, lost love cannot be restored. But ghosts can find their way through time and space. What is gone, can be found in another here and now. The spirit of The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) by François Truffaut, the film Hsiao-kang watches at night, is personified in the now-grown-up Jean-Pierre Léaud (memorable Antoine of the French film) whom Shiang-chyi meets at a cemetery. What Time is it There? is a tender and melancholic homage paid to the French new wave and to all the longings of the world.

Karolina Kosińska

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July-August 2009
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