The first film in five years from Taiwanese helmer Chang Tso-chi is hardly worth the wait.
The first film in five years from Taiwanese helmer Chang Tso-chi (“Ah Chung,” “The Best of Times”) is hardly worth the wait. Familiar cocktail of gangster characters, a dysfunctional family and general anomie strains for human drama and greater meaning but ends up a well-lensed but overlong auteurist exercise whose audience is solely fest devotees.
Che (Tseng Yi-che) returns to Nanfang’ao fishing port after taking the rap for younger bro Ren’s (Cheng Yu-jen) stabbing of the son of local mobster Shun (Hsu Ling-tsang). Ren is also back from hiding in Japan with their father, Chang (Michio Hayashida), who is due to return to settle a score with Shun. Che spends time with his ex-g.f., Pei (Chen Pei-chun), who’s now mute from some emotional trauma, and tries to connect with his semi-aboriginal roots by visiting his mom’s grave on neighboring Lanyu Island, before violence erupts. Divided into 11 sections by intertitles such as “Silence” and “Searching,” pic is basically a small-time gangster tale gussied up with existential musings. Original title means “Butterflies,” explaining the CG insects’ frequent appearances. Pic was halted for some time when production ran out of money.