Running Time: 112 mins / Production Year: 2012~2013 / Theatrical Release: Taiwan, 30 August 2013 / Screens: 22
“I’m like the shadow of a leaf, swaying back and forth in the dark with a faint glimmer, watching the wind go by like a dream.”
Quiet, 30 year-old A-chuan is a sous chef at a Japanese restaurant. One day he collapses and is rushed to hospital, where doctors are at a loss to explain what happened to him. They deduce that his sudden disassociated state is a psychological disorder and send him back to his hometown in the mountains to recuperate under the care of his 70 year-old father, Wang.
A-chuan won’t speak, won’t eat and can’t even go to the toilet on his own. One day his father returns from work to find A-chuan sitting in the corner and his daughter, Yan, dead in the middle of a pool of blood. In an unfamiliar, eerily calm voice, A-chuan says, “I saw this body was empty so I moved in.” Wang is trapped. His wife died in hospital years ago and A-chuan is now the last remaining member of his family. Wang is unwilling to turn his only son in to the police and too scared to take him to the hospital, so he buries Yan’s corpse in an unmarked grave in the mountains.
Wang drugs his son’s food and when he passes out Wang locks him in a hidden cottage. Then he has to deal with Yan’s husband, who shows up, concerned about his missing wife. To keep his son safe, Wang kills his son-in-law and he and A-chuan settle into a peaceful routine, father and son, jailor and jailed. At night, ghosts visit A-chuan in the cottage and talk to him. Events reach a gruesome conclusion when the police show up, looking for Yan and her husband.
Producers: YEH JUFENG, TSENG SHAO-CHIEN
Co-Producer: SONG MING-CHUNG
Scriptwriter: CHUNG MONG-HONG
Director of Photography: NAGAO NAKASHIMA
Production Designer: CHAO SHIH-HAO
Costume Designer: HSU LI-WEN
Editor: LO SHIH-JING
Sound: KUO LI-CHI, TU DUU-CHIH
Music: TSENG SI-MING
JOSEPH CHANG HSIAO-CHUAN as A-chuan
JIMMY WANG as Wang
CHEN SHIANG-CHYI as Yan
LEON DAI as Yan’s Husband
A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, CHUNG Mong-Hong has directed over 100 television commercials, several award-winning short films, and music videos. His first feature film, “PARKING” (2008), was an Un Certain Regard Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. His second feature film, “THE FOURTH PORTRAIT” (2010), won Best Narrative Feature at the Taipei Film Festival, Best Director at the 47th Golden Horse Awards, and played at almost all major international film festivals.
Have you ever looked at a familiar person, but suddenly had a strange feeling that he is no longer the person you knew before? What happened to him? Where is the original person? Has his state of mind changed, or has his soul, the very core of his being, changed? If you think of the human body as a country, what happens when it’s invaded and someone else takes over?
When an outside personality possesses the body there’s a symbiotic bond established between them. How would one’s family, friends and, most importantly, one’s father treat a wandering soul that possesses the body of their loved one? This film doesn’t discuss political issues or use possession as a metaphor for mental illness; instead, it examines what it means to be human. As humans, our lives are processes of transformation. We transform to adapt to the environment, to deal with different people, or even to get along with ourselves more harmoniously. Sometimes when we go too far we become lost. “If all forms are seen as unreal, the Tathagata [the form beyond forms – aka the Truth] will be perceived.” Maybe it’s only when we discard all the unreal disturbances from the external world that we can look directly into our purest selves that live deep within our souls.
At the end of the film, beyond the bloody slaughter, we see more of the tolerance and unrequited love of a father for his son. Does the strange soul that occupies A-Chuan’s body really do nothing but engulf Wang? I think that no matter how petty a soul can be, we can still see that a little radiance has blossomed in his life, even if it’s just a faint glimmer.
*Best Narrative Feature & Best Actor & Best Cinematography & Best Music Award at the Taipei Film Festival, 2013.
*Selected for Toronto Int’l Film Festival, 2013.
*Selected for Vancouver Int’l Film Festival, 2013.
*Selected for the A WINDOW ON ASIAN CINEMA section at the Busan Int’l Film Festival, 2013.
*Selected for the WORLD FOCUS section at the Tokyo Int’l Film Festival, 2013.
*Best Sound Effects & Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year at the Golden Horse Awards, 2013.