In the following I hope to write a review of Edward Yang's 'Terrorizer' that does justice to its presentation of the twin themes of interconnectedness and disconnectedness, which move through the work like the forces of Yin and Yang.
Superficially, the movie deals with three couples in states of loose adherence. The characters, and the unstable relationships between them, are altered through tangential, almost incidental interactions among themselves.
Firstly, there is a photographer, evidently the son of a wealthy family, and his girlfriend, who he deserts for most of the film to follow his fascination with a rather unlikable Eurasian woman (White Chick) who he initially photographs fleeing from the police with a male accomplice. This fascination is the reason for the photographer's break with his girlfriend. He goes on to rent the apartment she was escaping from, for use as a dark room. White Chick will later link up with a boyfriend to perpetrate a series of sex-scams, forming the second rather unstable 'couple' of the film, joined by the common pursuit of easy money rather than romantic attachment. The third ill-starred pair is a married couple, a doctor (Li-li Chong) and an authoress (Chou Yufen). The doctor has been waiting for a promotion and appears frustrated in its delay. His wife, a novelist, feels that her world as a housewife is growing smaller and smaller. How can she possibly write under such circumstances, she asks. A budding affair with her ex-colleague is further undermining the marriage.
--- The following discusses major plot points in detail ---
Technology seems to play a major role in this dystopia. The cameras of the rich young man link him to White Chick, prompting a break in his own romantic relationship. Later, when White Chick returns to the apartment she had been fleeing, and finds her image blown up to enormous size on the wall, she faints, waking to spend some time in the sealed world of the darkened room, in conversation with the photographer. When he falls asleep, she leaves and steals his cameras, hoping to sell them, returning them perhaps because she has found them too hard to sell quickly. Again the cameras, circumstantially related to a dissolving relationship.
A prank phone call (by the female criminal) sets off Chou Yufen's suspicions of her husband's fidelity. Their relationship was already on the rocks, but this simple call pushes it to breaking point. Technology has intruded, albeit arbitrarily, to 'break the camel's back', as it were, not actively causing a rupture in relations, but facilitating it. the brief connection of two people through a phone line precipitates a separation.
The last piece of technology, a pistol, is active in the last sequences of the movie, a rather dreamy set of scenarios which may reflect the desires and despair of the abandoned doctor, or be actual dreams of his wife, at the time in bed with her lover. (My initial view of the three scenarios presented was that the first two were imagined by the doctor: 1) Should he just kill his wife's lover unannounced? This idea is rejected because it contains no direct confrontation with the lover, or his unfaithful wife. 2) The next scenario involves just such a confrontation, though he cannot bring himself to shoot his wife. Instead, he goes after the woman who made the prank phone call. The police intrude upon this trajectory as he comes face-to-face with White Chick, since the handgun belongs to Li-Li Chong's detective friend, with whom he is indeed staying after a night of heavy drinking. After he envisages how this course of action will unfold, he opts to shoot himself instead, 3)which I think actually occurs. Unless, according to another theory, these are all dreamed by the wife, who does indeed wake with a start when the final shot is heard).
--- End of discussion of plot points ---
This complicated tangle of trajectories is portrayed in the typically cool, disconnected, Taiwanese style, with naturalistic sound only, and no music except that which is played on radios etc. The manner in which the stories are presented and connected parallels their content, for there is no consistent point-of-view presented that could link us to any one character, and the editing tosses us from one situation to another, leaving it to the viewer to make the connections between the scenes, and in turn, the characters themselves. I suspect that this manner of presentation was itself designed to convey certain realities of life in Taipei, a rough mixture of fortuitous coincidence and disconnectedness, a situation which the appliances designed to make life easier only serve to compound further.
This is a film that I found enjoyable to 'assemble', and which rewarded concentrated viewing, even while avoiding answering many of the questions it raised. I suspect that further viewings may only raise other questions rather than bring me closer to answers. 'Terrorizers' is very much an art film, and very much a Taiwanese film. I would recommended it most to those who already profess an interest in this combination, such as lovers of Taiwanese New Wave films generally. Those who like Antonioni's 'Blow Up' may also find some points of interest, as well as several interesting parallels. In sum: a mature work from an original and talented 'auteur'.
Kong bu fen zi
Crime / Drama
Kong bu fen zi
Crime / Drama
A metaphysical mystery about the lives of three couples in Taipei that continually intersect over a span of several weeks.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 21, 2021 at 07:23 AM