Directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Official Selection, 2015 Venice Film Festival
Official Selection, 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
Within five minutes of his documentary AFTERNOON, Tsai Ming-liang tells his longtime friend and muse Lee Kang-sheng that he thinks he’s dying. Lee continues to sit ponderously, staring into the distance, as if nothing has been said. Surely, Tsai has resorted to emotional theatrics before. But Lee has stayed by his friend’s side, a silent rock, a body as expressionless, reliable, and vital as it’s been in their past film collaborations like What Time is it There?, The Hole, or the “Walker” series.
The history of cinema has seen few director-actor pairings as enduring and fruitful as theirs, and while they seem joined at the hip in public appearances, their actual working and personal relationship remains a mystery. In this luminous single-shot documentary, Tsai lets us into the forest perch of a house the two of them just bought together, not necessarily to let us into their lives, but to pry something open within himself. For over two hours, they chat about their “beautiful impermanent relationship,” two lonely artists driven together by fate, reminiscing about their work as well as their travels, their sadness, and the preciousness of being present for the major milestones of each other’s lives.
Or at least that’s what we get from Tsai. Lee Kang-sheng on the other hand remains largely silent and the two emerge as characters in an existential play. One who so wants to dive deeper, who longs to name what their relationship is but is also afraid of what labels might do. And another who appears to be too deep to say anything at all. The effect is calming, genuine, spiritual, and exciting in the anticipation of a man trying to find the words to profess nothing short of love. –Brian Hu
Starring: Tsai Ming-liang, Lee Kang-sheng