|Hui guang zoumingqu 2014 Taiwan Exit|
Exit almost goes beyond the "watching paint dry" velocity of Tsai's films and into "watching paint weather and rot" tempo. The cinematography is smooth and creative, almost Doyle-y: like filming someone through a plant, down the hall, reflected off a mirror. There's free form surreal blurry stuff at an important point.
That's where the good stuff ends, for me. This is misery porn. Her daughter hates her; her out-of-town husband won't accept her calls; she loses her job; her sewing machine breaks; her water stops running; the deadbolt on her front door doesn't work. On and on. And on top of that, the director gives her early onset menopause and declares that's what the film is about!
I could be okay with all that. The misery is juxtaposed to her menopausal reawakening of desire. An odd juxtaposition, but there you have it. What spoiled the film for me was the soundtrack. The reawakening is linked to and escorted by a Tango. I don't know if it was the particular piece that didn't work, or if it was the way it was used. Suggesting the latter, Chen's tango partner has a breathing problem. There's too many long scenes of listening to him whimper and breathe laboriously. All this adds up to a film that feels more assembled to annoy than grown organically.
Exit isn't meant to be a pleasant film. There's a lot to admire, but I didn't enjoy it.
Summary: Ling (Chen), a Taiwanese woman in her forties has just lost her job in a garment factory. She spends most of her time taking care of her hospital-bound mother- in-law. Her absent husband, working in Mainland China, never returns her calls and her rebellious teenage daughter pays no attention to her. Frustrated and weary, Ling is unexpectedly diagnosed with early-onset menopause after noticing her periods have stopped. Desperate to escape her mundane life, she becomes aware of an injured man with bandaged eyes in the hospital bed opposite her mother-in-law. Her increasingly intimate interactions with this stranger promise to rekindle Ling's dormant desire, leading to a series of out-of-character episodes. Flashed with moments of black humour, EXIT is a genuine portrait of a woman trapped between two generations, struggling between tradition and modern society.