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One Day

A (deliberately) abstruse melange of romantic memory and time-shifting elements.

With:
With: Nikki Hsieh, Bryan Chang, Gwen Yao.

A (deliberately) abstruse melange of romantic memory and time-shifting elements, “One Day” reps an interesting, if over-padded, first feature by Taiwanese helmer Hou Chi-jan that’s held together by the gamine charm of actress-model Nikki Hsieh. Hou, whose docu “Taiwan Black Movies” valuably uncovered a lost period of the island’s cinematic history, shows he has the technical smarts to make quality mainstream fare in the future, though “Day” will pass time largely on the fest circuit.

Shopkeeper’s daughter Singing (Hsieh), who works as a cleaner on the ferry between Kaohsiung port and the military base of Kinmen island, is intrigued by a young soldier, Tsai Hsien-tsung (Bryan Chang), who’s on army service. One night, the lights go out onboard; when they come back on, the two find themselves on a now-deserted boat headed to Buenos Aires with just an Indian laborer and a horse for company. Tsai tells her they’re in a dream, and things get even weirder thereon. Hsieh, resembling a cross between actresses Zhou Xun and (a young) Sylvia Chang, remains highly watchable, even though Hou’s script takes a full hour before Singing asks the obvious question: “Why?”

One Day

Taiwan

Production: A Strawberry Time Films production. (International sales: Strawberry Time, Taipei.) Produced by Zoe Chen, Liao Shih-han. Executive producer, Hou Hsiao-hsien. Directed, written by Hou Chi-jan; story, Hou, Kelly Yang.

Crew: Camera (color), Feng Hsin-hua; editor, Liao Ching-sung; music, Han Cheng-ye; costume designer, Sung Han-hui. Reviewed at Arsenal 2, Berlin, Feb. 2, 2010. (In Berlin Film Festival -- Forum; Hong Kong Film Festival.) Original Mandarin title: You yitian. Mandarin, Hokkien dialogue. Running time: 94 MIN.

Cast: With: Nikki Hsieh, Bryan Chang, Gwen Yao.

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