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No consensus yet.
All Critics (32)
| Top Critics (10)
| Fresh (28)
| Rotten (4)
| DVD (1)
Certainly the work of a deeply serious and distinctive film-maker.
Stray Dogs really starts to come alive in its second half, when... the family-of-outcasts narrative tips completely into the slippery realm of the avant-garde.
In its most evocative moments offers images that will stick in your mind even longer than they stay on the screen.
A mysterious and deliberately prolonged series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity, among other things.
[A] glum, humorless exercise in Asian miserablism ...
An extreme, compassionate magnification of the minutiae of second-to-second existence (brushing teeth, counting money).
Taiwanese out gay director Tsai Ming-liang's "Stray Dogs" has a monumental quality that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible and heard on the best sound system available.
Stray Dogs does have something extraordinary to it, but it left me, finally, almost as cold, if not as wet, as its protagonists on Taipei's unforgiving streets.
If this, truly, is Tsai's send-off, Stray Dogs is a finish for the history books.
This is perhaps the most political Mr. Tsai has ever gotten.
The emotional and geographical wasteland where this takes place is both foreign and achingly real, and for those with the patience to traverse its terrains, its rewards are as vast as they are strange and unsettling.
The images are breathtaking, from incantatory close-ups of Lee's ravaged face, through sepulchral landscapes of concrete and vegetation, to weeping buildings haunted by shadowy ghosts.
It seems like Tsai is trying way too hard to be Tarkovsky (his previous film also gave strong indications of that) with extremely elongated static shots that can be really tiring for most viewers and dilutes into near banality the strength of the sad story that he wants to tell.
If "Stray Dogs" is a challenging movie for some viewers, it might have to do with more than just its deliberate pacing. In fact, director Tsai Ming Liang has structured this movie unlike most others in that it resembles a jigsaw puzzle more than anything else. So, what might seem confusing at first, soon clarifies to show a portait of a family in crisis living on the edge of starvation with the mother having just left because she can no longer stand it even before the opening credits. After which, her daughter and son hang around a supermarket all day, eating free samples and buying a cabbage. Whether this is because of the fractured family dynamic or the daughter just being one weird kid is up for debate.
In the meantime, the father works at a miserable low paying job holding a sign advertising apartments in a highway median in all sorts of weather which is certainly not for the faint of heart. What Tsai Ming Liang does well is use the irony of all of these luxury apartments being built and then left unoccupied and compare that to people like this family who are homeless and living in squalor in Taipei.
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