Days (2020)

A docu-fiction that may not be as fully-formed as Tsai’s previous films, but still feels somewhat rewarding if you surrender to its modulated slow cinema style.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Tsai Ming-liang
2020 | Taiwan | Drama | 127 mins | 1.78:1 | No dialogue
Not rated – likely to be R21 for homosexual theme

Cast: Lee Kang-sheng, Anong Houngheuangsy
Plot: Kang lives alone in a big house while Non stays in a small apartment in town. They meet, and then part, their days flowing on as before.
Awards: Won Teddy Award – Special Mention & Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlin)
International Sales: Homegreen Films

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature – LGBT, Existential
Narrative Style: Straightforward – Elliptical
Pace: Very Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No


Is it right to call Days a docu-fiction?  Maybe. 

But in Tsai Ming-liang’s latest feature film, he blurs that thin line between fiction and reality to an even greater extent as his camera captures his two actors—one (Lee Kang-sheng) very familiar to those who have been surveying Tsai’s works over the decades, and the other (Anong Houngheuangsy), a new face who might soon be familiar if rumours of a sequel to Days do come to fruition. 

On this note, one might see Days as a spiritual sequel to the even earlier and more fully-formed I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006).  With a Golden Bear competition slot at Berlin, one might accord some seriousness to Tsai’s work here, though I personally find this to be a minor film of his. 

Running at two hours, which feels all of its length as Tsai’s modulated slow cinema style takes center stage again. Made up of only a handful of shots, some flowing for more than 20 minutes without any cuts, Days could be Tsai’s most austere film to date. 

But it also seemingly suggests a new phase for his filmmaking, relying on low-fi digital cameras and what seems like a shoestring budget to continue innovating artistically, including intentionally having no subtitles in what is a largely dialogue-free film.  The anti-Tsai brigade will certainly be repelled by this, but those fully converted already will find it somewhat rewarding. 

Days is a tale of two men whose days of loneliness and isolation are so stifling that when they meet in a hotel room in a centrepiece 20-plus minute erotic massage, they find a rare connection undergirding the physical intimacy. 

Some of the most poetic moments in the film come in the form of Chaplin’s music for ‘Limelight’ as produced by a music box, incidentally also reproduced in I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone in a song sung by the great Li Xianglan, forging some kind of cosmic interconnectedness.    

Grade: B


Trailer:

2 Comments

  1. hi! i’d really love to see this film, even more so now after reading your critique. would you know any possible site or way for me to view it? 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. hi Sandy, are you also a Tsai Ming-liang fan? I think the film is not made legally available online yet – the distributor may be exploring various options at present. Hopefully you get to see it soon!

      Like

      Reply

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