The Wayward Cloud (Taiwan/France; 112 min.)


directed by: Tsai Ming-liang
starring: Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Yang Kuei-mei
The Wayward Cloud
 
Michael says: "Tsai Ming-Liang's THE WAYWARD CLOUD, is a sequel of sorts to the brilliant WHAT TIME IS IT THERE? It was a brilliant film, but definitely not quite what I was expecting. THE WAYWARD CLOUD is a sweetly subversive, powerfully disturbing musical about romance and sex. Lee Kang-sheng and Chen Shiang-chyi reprise their roles from WHAT TIME IS IT THERE? but their situations in life have changed. Hsiao-kang is no longer selling watches on the skywalk where the two characters have met. He now makes his living making pornographic films. Shiang-chyi has returned from her disastrous holiday in Paris and is working at a museum. When their paths cross, Shiang-chyi seems interested, and invites Hsiao-kang to her apartment. Hsiao-kang returns the young woman's affections, but seems to have to interest in physical intimacy. As the two grow closer, the barriers between their intimacy grow larger, culminating in a horrific conclusion that turns the whole film on its ear. Tsai Ming-Liang and Lee Kang-sheng, director and star of THE WAYWARD CLOUD

Using the musical genre, often combined with sweeping romance, Tsai Ming-liang is making a scathing comment about Hollywood romance. It seems he is responding to the undoubtedly many viewers of WHAT TIME IS IT THERE? who wished the two characters, separated by continents, could find happiness together. Tsai Ming-liang answers these wishes in THE WAYWARD CLOUD, to devestating effect. THE WAYWARD CLOUD is outstanding, playing gently with viewers expectations before pulling the rug out from under them. It's a film that stayed with me for days afterwards, and still upsets me when I think about it. That's the kind of movie I love. 5 cats.

"This film was screened at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival"

 

Bruce says: "SPOILERS BELOW!

"THE WAYWARD CLOUD is a sequel of sorts to Tsai Ming-liang’s earlier film WHAT TIME IS IT THERE? Changes are in the air. Hsiao-Kang (Lee Kang-sheng) no longer sells watches, he is now making porno films. A drought paralyzes Taiwan and the watermelon has become the most popular source of liquid refreshment. The watermelon craze has spawned watermelon eating contests, seed spitting contests, and juice stands. Television programs are preoccupied with the bright red melon. It is the use of watermelon as a porno prop that will perk up most viewers. Outside of a few seeds sticking in pubic hair, the juicy melons prove to be a more than adequate erotic device.

"Tsai Ming-liang’s intricate film pays homage to many things American – Tennessee Ernie Ford, Linda Lovelace, Woody Allen and Eartha Kitt – as he merges Western music and musical numbers into Taiwanese culture. One stairwell scene masterfully evokes images of M.C. Escher.

"Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) has returned to Taiwan from France. She is preoccupied in combating the drought by filling water bottles and storing them in her refrigerator. As Hsiao-Kang snoozes in a park one afternoon, Shiang-chyi stumbles upon him. Before she wakes him up, she circles him several times to make sure she is not mistaken. The two quickly rekindle their friendship and embark on a strange and unsatisfactory relationship. Shiang-chyi is unaware that Hsiao-Kang works in the sex industry although she senses something is amiss. Hsiao-Kang attempts to hold back from getting too physical; whether out of shame, exhaustion or embarrassment one is never sure.

"Interspersed throughout are several musical numbers which echo theme in the narrative. Believe it or not, Tsai Ming-liang’s outrageous playfulness adds to his storytelling. The most devastating scene in THE WAYWARD CLOUD is the final one. Shiang-chyi follows Hsaio-Kang and discovers him raping an unconscious porn star. Her reaction is shocking and, I think, open to interpretation. No one who sees this film will ever say 'I can’t remember how THE WAYWARD CLOUD ends.'

"As for the clouds, they appear everywhere. There are clouds of noodles, painted clouds on ceilings, clouds of skirts and clouds of smoke. Everything about THE WAYWARD CLOUD is over the top. Hmm…delicious. Caution: this film is not for everyone. 5 cats"