What Time Is It There?

"OK"

What Time Is It There? Review


After opening with a static, four-minute shot of an old man sitting in a chair, the conceptual Taiwanese drama-comedy "What Time Is It There?" does pick up a bit -- but there's an element of that cinematic passivity in evidence throughout the rest of the film.

At its heart are three interconnected stories just begging to be infused with a little clever commotion, which director Tsai Ming-Liang keeps in short supply even though he's quite daring and creative in his quiescent observational style.

One story is about the old man's forlorn widow (Lu Yi-Ching), who becomes obsessed with coaxing her husband's spirit to return to their home. The second follows the old man's son (Lee Kang-Sheng), a street vendor who falls instantly in love with a girl (Chen Shiang-Chyi) who buys a dual time zone wristwatch from him on her way to the airport for a flight to Paris. The girl's trip to the City of Lights then becomes the third narrative.

As Chen dabbles in the freedoms of self-discovery, the young man who can't get her out of his head goes about Taipei, compulsively setting every clock he can get his hands on to Paris time. This includes clocks on the tops of buildings, which requires some surreptitious sneaking about, and the clock in his mother's living room, which she mistakes as a sign from the dearly departed.

Much oddity ensues on all fronts, which Tsai records exclusively in lengthy, curious and arcane static shots that become fascinating in their own way after a while. The characters are developed -- and developed well -- largely through body language since dialogue comes along only about every fourth scene.

But Tsai often lingers just as long on the irrelevant as he does on the engaging, which gradually turns "What Time Is It There?" into "How Long Is This Movie?" Couldn't he, for example, lose the scene in which we watch Lee wake up, take a leak in a clear plastic bag for no apparent reason, then go back to sleep?

All of this is done with a countenance of such intentional lethargy that the film starts to feel like it will take up every minute of those nine hours our hero adds to the timepieces of Taipei.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Homegreen Films, Arena Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Hsiao-kang, as Shiang-chyi, as Mother, as Father, Cecilia Yip as Woman in Paris, Chen Chao-jung as Man in Subway Station, Tsai Guei as Prostitute, Jean-Pierre Léaud as Jean-Pierre/ Man at the Cemetery, Arthur Nauzyciel as Man at Phone Booth, David Ganansia as Man at Restaurant

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.