In this portrait of a postmodern Taiwan at century's beginning, The Human Comedy weaves together four different story lines loosely based on bizarre...
In this portrait of a postmodern Taiwan at century's beginning, The Human Comedy weaves together four different story lines loosely based on bizarre anecdotes from The Book of 24 Filial Pieties, a classic compilation of Confucian moral fables. Through the comic shifts and contrasting visual styles of the four stories which this film presents in seven interrelated episodes, we are given glimpses into the disintegrating social bonds of a Chinese society in transition.
The first story line in this contemporary com (die humaine follows a young woman
who works in a shoe store in Taipei's bustling movie theatre district. Hardly cognizant of her customers except to notice the size of their feet, this salesgirl lives largely in a world of her own imagination, her sole pleasure being her passion for Tony Leung, a Hong Kong film star and singer. One day, crushed by the news that he has cancelled his long-awaited Taipei concert, she becomes so distracted she never even notices that one of her customers that afternoon may have been Tony Leung himself. That night, she finally consummates her relationship with her boyfriend.
The second story line follows A-xing, a young actor who is about to play “White Snake” in The White Tide, a postmodern adaptation of a Chinese demon tale being staged by an avant-garde theatre director who is about to die. A-xing is caught between the desires to please his director, who has asked him to perform certain scenes in the nude, and the desire to avoid shocking his conservative mother, who will be attending the performance. A-xing decides to perform the scenes as his director requests. When his mother leaves the theatre quickly after the performance he assumes she was shocked by his nudity. It is not until the director's funeral, some months later, that he finally realizes that his mother had, in fact, been impressed by his performance and has come to accept his decision to follow an acting career.
The third story line concerns a young woman, Vicky, and her live-in boyfriend, a recent immigrant from a post-repatriated Hong Kong, who have decided to look for a new home in the hope of finding, if not ‘the good life,’ a sanctuary from the roaches infesting their urban apartment. Unable to find an affordable flat within Taipei, they look further afield. A well-spoken real estate agent named Darren nearly gets them to sign for an apartment in a remote and expensive hi-rise project but the stress of house hunting reveals striking differences in the couple's respective visions of ‘the good life’ and they
fall to quarrelling. We follow them back to their old apartment, where they renew their war against the roaches.
The film's fourth and final story line concerns Darren, the aforementioned real estate agent. Although recently divorced, Darren is finding it difficult to get away from his former wife, Caixia, who is suffering from a host of psychosomatic illnesses that appear to have as their cause her desire to prolong her involvement with Darren. One evening, in the middle of a typhoon, Darren is called to a hospital emergency room where Caixia has been admitted after complaining of severe abdominal pains. There, Darren is not only forced to witness the bedlam of a city-center hospital he is reduced to the indignity of having to retrieve Caixia's stool specimen from the toilet. When the doctor can find nothing wrong with Caixia, Darren offers to drive her home, where he is admonished by one of Caixia's friends for not keeping his distance.
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Festivals & Awards :
2001 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (U.S.A.) 2001 FESTIVAL OF THE 3 CONTINENTS (Nantes/France) Prix du Public 2002 MUSCAT FILM FESTIVAL (Oman) Best Film (Golden Dagger Award) 2002 ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF VESOUL (France) Opening film 2002 CINEMA NOVO FESTIVAL OF BRUGGE (Belgium) 2002 HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Hong Kong) Competition, mentioned by the Jury of the FIPRESCI 2002 JEONGJU INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Korea) Competition 2002 CHANGCHUN CHINA FILM FESTIVAL (China) Special Jury Prize 2002 MONTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL (Canada) 2002 QUEBEC CITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Canada) 2002 FESTIVAL OF FILM AND VIDEO/L'INTERNATIONAL DU CINEMA DE L'ESTRIE (Canada) 2003 'MADE IN TIAWAN' FILM FESTIVAL (France) Opening film 2003 FOCUS ON ASIA FUKUOKA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL (Japan)