Few recent Films have divided audiences and excited debate like Vive L'Amour, winner of the Golden Lion at Venice last year. Despite the romantic title, the film is about lack of love and fulfilment in the overworked 1980s. But what sends its supporters out of the cinema on a high is its daring use of film language. Without any music and very little dialogue writer-director Tsai Ming-ling depends on his years of screen-writing experience to keep us engaged at all times. But for some, he goes too far and the result is too severe.
Yang Kusi-Mei from Ang Lee's Eat, Drink Man Woman enters leanne Moreau territory here. She gives the performance of a lifetime as a real estate agent d'un certain age who uses her empty apartments for quick sex. Spare keys fall into the hands of a lover and another young man unsure of his sexuality, and all three end up using the one space.
Vive L'Amour is a hyper-realist film that drops all the manipulative devices of film drama. But it is also highly symbolic. In fact, few people in Taipei reaily live alone, and so the empty apartments which are a feature of Taipei's speculative construction boom express character psychology, as does the remarkable barren parkland which features at the close of this instant classic.