Publicity Stills of "The Wayward Cloud"
(Courtesy from Festive Films)

Berlin International Film Festival 2005

* Silver Berlin Bear Outstanding Artistic Achievement, Director Tsai Ming Liang
* FIPRESCI Prize Competition, Director Tsai Ming Liang for its tragicomic reflection of the decline of human relations and pornography as an obsession of modern culture including cinema itself.
* Alfred Bauer Award (goes to a film which succeeds in "taking the art of film in a new direction”), Director Tsai Ming Liang

Nominated Golden Berlin Bear, Director Tsai Ming Liang

Original Title: "Tian bian yi duo yun"
Director: Tsai Ming Liang
Starring: Lee Kang Sheng, Chen Shiang Chyi, Lu Yi-Ching, Yang Kuei-Mei, Sumomo Yozakura
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-keris Films
Rating: R21

Opening Day: 4 August 2005


In an age of severe water shortage, TV programs are teaching various water-saving methods and encouraging the drinking of watermelon juice in place of water. However, everyone has its own solutions when it comes to finding water.

Shiang-Chyi picks up empty bottles and fills them with water stolen from public toilets while Hsiao-Kang, now a porn actor, climbs to the rooftop in the middle of the night to bathe with what little water he can find in the water storage tanks. Survival is hard but loneliness is even harder to bear. Each of us is like a cloud in the silent sky - always floating alone and never touching each other.

One day, Shiang-Chyi finds a watermelon and later meets Hsiao-Kang in the park. She remembers buying a watch from him before. She has not seen him since then and has no idea what he is now doing at her building.

They fall in love.

When a cloud touches another, what shape will they form?

Movie Review:

This film sparked controversy over its content and gratuitous sex scenes, some of which are edited length-wise (pardon the pun) in Singapore because of its intensity. However, the burning question is not why these scenes are edited, or why they were made in the first place. Rather, the question is, what does this film actually mean?

Director Tsai Ming Liang is no stranger to unorthodox movie making. His past works are filled with minimal dialogue, long, wide angled and lingering shots, which takes time to get used to. Some might even liken his style to Hong Kong's director Wong Kar Wai, given the nature and take on this strange tale.

The story is somewhat like what "2046" is to "In The Mood For Love". The Wayward Cloud actually is a sequel of sorts to events taken place in an earlier Tsai film, "What Time Is It Over There" (2001), starring the same protagonists Hsiao Kang (played by Tsai regular Lee Kang Sheng) and Shiang Chyi (played by actress Chen Shiang Chyi). It's a simple tale of boy
meets girl (again, if you count the prequel), falling in love, sharing intimate moments, and the feeling of being betrayed by deceit (well, sort of anyway).

The narrative consists mismatched kaleidoscope of starkly different sub plots meshed into one.
Loneliness is a key theme in the first half of the movie as we see each protagonist in their individual daily lives, set in a backdrop of drought stricken Taipei. We are introduced to a lonely Shiang Chyi trying to put up in these dire circumstances, given her innovative water rationing and collecting techniques. Hsiao Kang, on the other hand, was introduced in a matter of fact manner, as a porn actor, with co-stars ranging from nubile chicks to plus sized Japanese adult video stars.

There are a number of plot devices which seem to be unexplained, or there for the sake of being there. Some scenes stick out like how red herrings do in a detective thriller, and in particular, the musical pieces seem disjointed and do not contribute constructively to the narrative. While colourful in nature and at times hilarious (check out the costumes, which range from the ridiculous water creature, to the sadomasochistic looking spider woman, and even phallic
looking ones), with the music coming on too suddenly, it spoilt the overall look and feel of the movie. Having some of the cast perform song and dance routines does not make a musical.

But the actors put up a commendable job in emoting through the lack of dialogue, just like what the actors in the recently screened 3-Iron pulled off. It's always tough to act without using speech and tone to bring through thoughts and ideas to the audience, even though in this film, sex somewhat helped it sell.

And speaking of sex, the last long scene had additional fuel for thought. This film tried to show
the "behind the scenes" of porn production, with production technicalities stripping sex from any hint of sensuality and emotions involved. While the earlier scenes were as graphic, somehow this particular one struck as treating the female body as a piece of meat, there to gratify, comatose or not. It might be difficult to stomach, but somehow the editing (by the local censors) made it easier to swallow (pardon the pun again). It's raw in some ways, leading to a rather surprising end.

Just like clouds, this film will definitely take on different interpretations with no fixed form,
depending on the mindset and imagination the audience views it with. To some, it's art, and to others, smut. But most will probably agree that a humble watermelon will never be looked at in the same light again.

Movie Rating:

(Strictly for the niche audience who enjoy open debates on the film's meaning, even after the
curtain falls)

Review by Stefan Shih

DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004-2005, movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.