The film within the film is a screening of Dragon Inn, a Taiwanese wuxia film (a genre of traditionally Chinese cinema that stages the adventures of martial artists in ancient China). This key work is a masterclass in slow cinema, blending elements of documentary realism with the haunted suggestion of an unresolved ghost story.
The cavernous cinema exists between shadowy desire and the memories just beyond grasp, a ghostly return to childhood embodied by the enraptured child watching the film with his grandfather. This is how the film plays out too: a collection of fragmented moments and fleeting connections between human beings, already steeped in nostalgia.
‘Tsai Ming-Liang is noted as a wry explorer of existential ennui and despair in the vein of Samuel Beckett, but his standing as a social commentator is undervalued.’– Tony Rayns.
‘A beautiful love poem to the movies.’ – Slant magazine.
‘Tsai’s masterpiece manages to be many things at once: a Taiwanese Last Picture Show, a failed heterosexual love story, a gay cruising saga, a melancholy tone poem, a mordant comedy, a creepy ghost tale…’ – Jonathon Rosenbaum