Vive L'Amour

dir. Tsai Ming-liang

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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The lives of a lonely career woman, a handsome street vendor, and a suicidal gay man intersect in bizarre and potentially dangerous ways, in the astonishing second feature by acclaimed Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang.

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Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival, the astonishing second feature by Tsai Ming-liang — the foremost auteur of the Taiwanese Second Wave — connects elements of the Theatre of the Absurd with an atmosphere of creeping ennui in a constellation of eerily underpopulated urban spaces. Vive L’Amour follows the interactions of three variably rootless urban drifters (much like the Mainland Sixth Generation flâneurs): Mei (Yang Kui-mei), a lonely woman in her thirties working as a real-estate agent; Ah-jung (Chen Chao-jung), a handsome street vendor selling women’s clothing; and Hsiao-kang (Lee Kang-sheng, Tsai’s frequent onscreen muse and alter ego), a suicidal gay man selling niches for the cremated dead. When Mei accidentally leaves her key in the door of a vacant, fancy new condo she is trying to sell, the trio begins to converge and coexist in dangerously intimate situations. The film’s breathtaking and vexing final shot is one of the most iconic conclusions in all of contemporary cinema. "Working principally without dialogue — with a feeling for both modern architecture and contemporary urban despair that often recalls Michelangelo Antonioni — [Vive L'Amour] gathers force slowly but builds to a powerful and devastating finale" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).