Beginning early with the instant classics such as Rebels of the Neon God (1992) and Vive L’Amour (1994), Tsai Ming-liang has hardly made a career easy for himself. Internationally recognised as one of the world’s greatest auteurs early on, Ming-liang has returned to the Venice Film Festival once again.
Unlike his VR film, this is structured into rigid close-ups consistent in their framing and lighting. It is scored by none other than the great Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Revenant, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor) whose minimal compositions operate in parallel to the images, never threatening oversentimentality.
Your Face is not structurally or narratively recognisable from his early work but instead a distilled to its most integral parts. Each questions and intimately interrogates what is common to humanity, with the gentleness of his earlier work. Unlike his earlier preoccupation with the alienation of urban life, we do not venture beyond the confines of the scene however Taipei is often mentioned.
The faces speak of their first loves, their strengths and weaknesses, how they came into their fortunes but regret is the central concern for all. Most are non-actors, except of course Hsiao-kang, who reappears a grown man – the Antoine Doinel of Asian cinema. Not everyone speaks, most sit in silence. A smile burst upon the faces of a couple, a spontaneous human expression is it simply impossible not to share.
A triumph of contemplative cinema, Your Face is a gift to the Venice Film Festival. Tsai Ming-liang’s collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto results in a prose poem of human sensitivity and warmth. It’s a very experimental film but with any hope, it will receive an audience beyond this one.
CAST: Tsai Ming-liang, Lee Kang-sheng
DIRECTOR: Tsai Ming-liang
SYNOPSIS: Radically rethinking the tired talking-heads template, Tsai Ming-liang’s latest digital experiment turns the human face into a subject of dramatic intrigue.