Vive l'Amour (1994)
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Tsai is an amazingly talented director, and he brings the themes of his first film to another level with this nearly silent tale of young Taipei adults who long for any spark of love or connection that eludes them as they endure the relentless grip of urban loneliness and hopelessness.
a nearly wordless film that works as a kind of homage to antonioni's themes, especially in 'l'eclisse'. three characters share an apartment, unbeknownst to each other as they almost never interact, a metaphor for the anonymity and alienation of big city life. beautifully done. i'm working through tsai's filmography in order and i recommend it highly
"Don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone I love." - Woody Allen to Diane Keaton, "Annie Hall"(1977)
"Vive L'Amour" starts with Hsiao-kang(Lee Kang-sheng) stealing a key for a vacant luxury apartment and moving in where he suffers in his solitude. Even in an office full of partiers, he is miserable. After some flirtation, Mei(Yang Kuei-Mei), a real estate agent, takes Ah-jung(Chen Chao-jung) back to that same apartment for some quick anonymous sex. He likes the surroundings and decides to stick around for a while. So, while he and his housemate might have to worry about running into each other, they do not have to worry about the apartment being sold since the housing market is in shambles, leaving Mei out of luck. That does not stop construction all over the place, and at one point her car is blocked by a crane. She needs her car if she is to keep moving in an attempt to make a living in such desperate times where Ah-Jung mans an illegal sidewalk sale. So busy is she that she hardly has time to eat, much less have a relationship.
I told a friend of mine I was going into the city to see "Vive L'Amour," directed by Tsai Ming-liang, and he asked what his movies are about. I replied that they are usually not strong on plot, and are generally about loneliness which is certainly true here. In this case, Tsai Ming-liang directs with his customary exquisite panache and playful and melancholic sense of humor, with little dialogue to denote a lack of communication. In lesser hands, this would be just another bedroom farce, but he takes his time to fully explore the symbolism of closed doors and personal space in a city with no lack of it, just anything affordable. And while we all want a lot of space to live our lives, the cremation containers that Hsiao-kang sells is all we need when we die.
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