This movie started a movement in the Taiwanese film world (the New Wave), and I can see why. The entire style of the movie, from cinematography, camerawork, and candid dialogue, places viewers right into the time of early Japanese post-colonialism in Taiwan. The minimalist lighting and natural setting takes away from the superficial, set-up world of many studio films. The sometimes agonizingly long pans of long shots seems to push audience members away from being "involved" in the story line of the movie, but in doing so, it actually reveals a candid quality--like being a fly on the wall, watching quietly as events unfold. If you're accustomed to watching lots of studio films, however, this movie can take some getting-used to. As the film progresses, viewers are aware of each character's role in the story and what their relationship is to one another, but characters are difficult to relate to and there's little space for "development," characters don't really transform over time--they sort of are just there--living their lives (which is a hallmark of Taiwanese New Wave films). However, A City of Sadness really set the standard to films that tell it like it is. In fact, when comparing this film to Ang Lee's "Lust Caution" (with the same male lead actor), very direct parallels can be made.