Sunday, December 20, 2015

Beautiful Melancholia

Dust in the Wind (1987) - Hou
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Wan (Wang Chien-wen) and Huey (Hsin Shu-fen) are teenage lovers in a small mining town. After graduating middle school, they decide to go to bustling Taipei to earn money for their families. Wan takes a job at printing factory then later as a motorcycle delivery man while going to night school. Huey works as a seamstress. They befriend with billboard painter and his gang at a movie theater, hang out and drink sometimes. But life is tough and as you know, things never go the way you wanted.

Hou's elegy to his adolescent times is full of stunningly beautiful moments - a train ride home in the beginning, normally shy Huey taking off her shirt in a spur of the moment, grandpa's firecrackers, suspicious, shipwrecked Chinese family in the army barracks, watching people fighting fire from across the street, drunken dad trying to lift a stone, etc. It feels almost indecent to share these memories of Wan and Huey as intimately and vividly as I watch Dust in the Wind. But like past memories, Hou's treatment of these moments are so fleeting and democratic, it just quietly floats by without much time for reflection (which comes later). And before you know it, the film ends and leaves you with beautiful melancholia. Another bittersweet masterpiece by Hou.

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