Directed by Chang Tso-chi
Nov. 7 screening free for UCSD students, faculty, and staff
Grand Prize, Best Narrative Film, 2015 Taipei Film Festival
Siegessäule Readers’ Jury Award, 2015 Berlin International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival
Nomination, Best Feature Film, Best Director, 2015 Golden Horse Awards
They say sleep is the cousin of death. What does that make drunkenness then? In Chang Tso-chi’s latest, it’s a willing flirtation, an indiscriminate dance with the end. The appropriately named Rat is the kind of street presence everyone knows but can’t get rid of, stumbling through your business and muttering to himself. He drinks heavily, but so did his late mother, and so does his cousin who is sleeping with his best friend.
Rat’s flirtation with death also comes with his side gig slashing up johns who torment his mute-prostitute would-be girlfriend. He fancies himself a bit of a protector for those living on the brink, a drunken Anubis who can only care for discarded fish and the ants that crawl up his hand. Meanwhile, his best friend flirts with the high energy of the neighborhood gay bars, the only real source of salvation in THANATOS, DRUNK, though even that comes cast under a cloud of inevitable doom.
Rat’s world is a familiar one for Chang, who after a few lighthearted films like A Time in Quchi (SDAFF ’13) returns to the magical realist subterranean tangos that made his name. Never though has his interest in abject lives come with such a heavy, crying heart. He’s bathed the world in amber, fossilizing the forgotten even while they’re alive. His characters drink for communion, for work, and for escape, and he also brings the audience to numbness, not to avoid living, but to live in peace with the gods and monsters of death. –Brian Hu