Taipei Story (Qing mei zhu ma) Reviews
In Taipei Story, Yang casts another prominent Taiwanese New Wave cinema director Hou Hsiao-Hsien as a former baseball player Lung and Yang's future wife Tsai Chin as Chin. Chin used to be quite a successful corporate office worker before she lost her last job. She always stays independently not relying upon her father who is the lazy troubled businessman. Taipei Story shows Chin's weakness in an affair with Lung who is seeking himself. Lung lives in the past dealing with the old memories from times when he was a player and had another affair with a Japanese woman. He is not able to get over the middle age crisis and keeps making irrelevant decisions in business and private life. Lung helps his friends and troubled Chin's father lending him money to pay back to loan sharks, yet he doesn't do much for his own life or happiness of his girlfriend.
Lung and Chin frequently think and talk about a possible move to the United States which might let them start a new life. They really want it, but remain unable to make a step towards it due to Lang inability to look into the future and act. After some time, Lung starts seeking excuses saying neither any move nor marriage will solve their problems and change anything. Lung's life becomes more and more aimless, while Chin loses the hopes for living a better life and professional advance. The situation puts a test on the characters' relationships they cannot pass. The disaster and tragedy in their story become inevitable.
The most impressive aspect of the story is its visual style. The usage of unfurnished apartments, offices and alienated urban landscapes is a great illustration of emptiness embedding the protagonists. In his second feature, Edward Yang also appears to be a solid visual master showing great work with lights. The clarity of visual style, emotionally charged close-up and stylish looks and cuts are really impressive. The film might be not so moving, but the story is brilliant in its poignancy and bleakness.
Casting other famous directors from Taiwan in his films becomes a common thing for Yang with Taipei Story. Apart from Hou who produced a great performance, in Taipei Stroy, we also see Wu Nien-jen who would later appear in Yang's Mahjong and magnum opus Yi Yi.