Ni na bian ji dian (What Time Is It Over There?)

Critics Consensus

Though it requires patience to view, What Time Is It There?'s exploration of loneliness is both elegant and haunting.



Total Count: 51


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,612
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Movie Info

The emotional pull of love and the strange symmetry between two people separated by a continent provide the backdrop for this subtly comic tale from director Tsai Ming-liang. Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng) is a young man who sells watches in the streets; his father recently died, which has his mother (Lu Yi-ching) wondering about the possibilities of reincarnation and Hsiao-kang puzzled about life in general. One day, Hsiao-kang is plying his trade when he's approached by an attractive young woman, Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi), who tells him she's going to be taking a trip to Paris. Hsiao-kang ends up selling her his own watch, which has two faces in order to tell time in two zones at once; as the days go on, he finds that he can't stop thinking about Shiang-chyi, and as he ponders what might have been (or what could be) between them, he starts changing every clock he sees to Paris time. Jean-Pierre Leaud has a brief cameo as himself; Shiang-chyi bumps into him shortly after seeing Les 400 Coups. Ni Neibian Jidian was shown in competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.


Kang-sheng Lee
as Hsiao-kang
Shiang-chyi Chen
as Shiang-chyi
Tien Miao
as Father
Cecilia Yip
as Woman in Paris
Chao-jung Chen
as Man in Subway Station
Tsai Guei
as Prostitute
Arthur Nauzyciel
as Man at Phone Booth
David Ganansia
as Man at Restaurant
Jean-Pierre Léaud
as Himself/Man at the Cemetery
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Critic Reviews for Ni na bian ji dian (What Time Is It Over There?)

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (8)

  • This wonderful, one-of-a-kind movie hops from Taiwan to France, from tragedy to deadpan comedy and, in its mysterious conclusion, from the worldly to the otherworldly.

    Mar 6, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • If you've the patience, there are great rewards here.

    Jun 11, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Jamie Russell
    Top Critic
  • While its careful pace and seemingly opaque story may not satisfy every moviegoer's appetite, the film's final scene is soaringly, transparently moving.

    Mar 28, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Tsai's confidence in the deep power of silence drives home the film's inner convictions. Its surface works coolly, intriguingly and, happily, feebly in opposition to the heart of the matter.

    Mar 22, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • At times, Tsai's approach makes viewing this film like watching paint dry, but what a sublime design it makes.

    Mar 21, 2002 | Rating: B+
  • Alternates between deadpan comedy and heartbreaking loneliness and isn't afraid to provoke introspection in both its characters and its audience.

    Mar 21, 2002 | Rating: B+

Audience Reviews for Ni na bian ji dian (What Time Is It Over There?)

  • Mar 01, 2016
    Despite its evocative visuals, it feels repetitious to see Tsai explore once again his favorite themes of loneliness and emptiness but in a film that is too puzzling and lacks in consistency - especially with regard to the character's odd obsession with clocks and a woman he barely meets.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 08, 2010
    Images speak for themselves in Tsai's invigorating cinematic ouvre. Ni na bian ji dian is almost as symbolic as a modern Lynch masterpiece; Thailand is shown through a low-class scope where silence plays the most important role in the characters' inner desperation. Life is an enormous chess board: the game is unpredictable and there are several ways in which you can win, but half of the circumstances are out of your control. Besides, the game is too short. Human emotions felt to their most extreme boundaries become, ultimately, in the most intense escapism available. The loneliness of completely separate individuals, both in the physical and spiritual levels, is connected regardless of kilometric distance. 100/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 05, 2009
    A girl is going to Paris. A watch seller. A cake as a gift. Two people connected by loneliness. Subtle humor, sadness, minimal dialogues, slow movie. <a href=''><img src='' border='0' alt='Image Hosted by'/></a> This absolutely great film also brings an homage to Truffaut and a small part of Jean-Pierre Léaud. You don´t need to know The 400 blows, but if you do, you will definitely have another view of "What Time Is It There?". <br> <br>
    Rubia Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 2008
    I slow film about loss, emptiness, loneliness and the need to fill this up, to be somewhat in control and not being able to. Very delicate.
    Saskia D Super Reviewer

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