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The Passage

Chinese painting and poetry connect the lovelorn and disenfranchised in "The Passage," a Taiwanese meller that uses traditional arts as an avenue for a contempo analysis of eternal romantic dilemmas. Though knowledge of Chinese culture is not a pre-requisite, this second feature by Taiwanese director Cheng Wen-tang ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Venice 2002) will find its biggest market among sinologists, in Asia and beyond. Opening credits list the involvement of Taiwan's National History Museum and final roller contains images of many of the institution's wares.

With:
With: Guey Lun-mei, Leon Dai, Yukihiko Kageyama, Tian Fong.

Chinese painting and poetry connect the lovelorn and disenfranchised in “The Passage,” a Taiwanese meller that uses traditional arts as an avenue for a contempo analysis of eternal romantic dilemmas. Though knowledge of Chinese culture is not a pre-requisite, this second feature by Taiwanese director Cheng Wen-tang (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Venice 2002) will find its biggest market among sinologists, in Asia and beyond. Opening credits list the involvement of Taiwan’s National History Museum and final roller contains images of many of the institution’s wares.

Petite but determined Yu-ching (Guey Lun-mei) is working as a museum research assistant when a Japanese man, Tao (Yukihiko Kageyama), inquires about a piece of Chinese calligraphy entitled “The Cold Food Observance.” Yu-ching sees an opportunity here both for romance and for the healing of her friendship with an emotionally repressed pal, Dong Heng (Leon Dai), as the artwork is the center point of a book Dong is writing. However, Dong reacts with jealousy. Cheng’s calmly assured direction radiates quality but not much warmth, though sincere performances help to enliven the intense, frequently sluggish narrative. Chen Huai-en’s lensing is exquisite.

The Passage

Taiwan

Production: A Green Light Films production, in association with the National Palace Museum. (International sales: Green Light, Taipei.) Produced by Cheng Wen-tang, Liu Kuei-lan. Executive producer, Shih Shou-chien. Directed by Cheng Wen-tang. Screenplay, Cheng Wen-tang, Cheng Ching-feng.

Crew: Camera (color), Chen Huai-en; editor, Lei Chen-ching; music, Chen Rou-jheng; production designer, Ko Ching-Mei; costume designer, Wei Miao-Fang. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (competing), Oct. 24, 2004. Original title: Jing guo. Mandarin, Japanese dialogue. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Guey Lun-mei, Leon Dai, Yukihiko Kageyama, Tian Fong.

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