Maybe Taiwanese filmmakers wouldn’t feel so bad about the malaise of a contemporary society that sacrifices human contact, tradition and spirituality for career and materialistic gain if they stopped making empty miserablist tracts like “Robinson’s Crusoe.” Lin Cheng-sheng’s film about a real estate agent dreaming of early retirement in paradise strings together endless one-to-one conversations between poorly defined characters, probably confining this uninvolving meditation to a marginal position on the festival map.
The Taiwanese life-crisis drama has become an over-exploited sub-genre, with nothing new to be gleaned from Lin’s ponderous retread. The blankly drawn title character (Leon Dai) sells luxury apartments with colleagues who share apparent prosperity but also unsatisfying relationships and a lack of self-fulfillment. Their only smiles are the ones they force to excite potential buyers about a property. Quietly drowning in this suffocating Taipei environment, Robinson identifies an escape route in a Web site offering an island for sale. Crisp, graceful lensing and warm lighting represent a visual contrast and the only relief from the monotonous mood of the drama, which wears its tired themes emblazoned in its sleeve.