jing’s review published on Letterboxd:
Truly an unexpectedly cathartic and almost transcendent experience.
日子, the original title, literally translates into “days”, but its deeper meaning is much more unfathomable. it’s life, or the day-to-day routine that comes with as many hardships and challenges as joys. There’s something monotonous in the word itself, and it’s the monotony and repetitiveness that tsai ming-liang channels so beautifully in days.
The static opening scene, shot through a window and showing one of the main characters sitting in a chair while being surrounded by rain, lasts multiple minutes and is the first of many equally long, motionless and reflective shots. shots that, due to their length and quiescence, force us to take in every detail and reflect on whatever is on screen, and, in the end, reflect on our own lives and our days.
My initial skepticism and hint of boredom soon gave way to curiosity which turned into pondering, and it was about halfway through the movie that i realized what it really is about. Days isn’t trying to be constantly exciting or thrilling, or trying to become a montage of stirring events, and it doesn’t need to be, because life isn’t. This movie relishes in the tediousness that life can be, and it bathes in the feeling of monotony and loneliness we all inevitably go through, and probably all have in 2020. much like cars on a highway, we fleetingly pass each other’s lives and drive on on our own lane amid all the noise, maybe all moving into the same direction, but alone and isolated in the end.
There are however little moments of agitation and happiness, and although they are fleeting, the memories don’t have to be. encapsulated in perhaps a music box, we can reach for them whenever we need them, play the sweet melody we associate with comfort, and escape the solitary routine for just a moment.
Days channels a feeling and something i have been reflecting on even more so with growing up and especially in 2020. What is the point of all this? What is the point of life? Are we all just living on drably, going on day by day, month by month and year by year, perhaps studying, perhaps working, perhaps at some point starting a family, working a 9 to 5 job and then growing old? Then what is the point of all this? Life can be boring and lonely and scary, and what is the point, if it isn’t happiness? Happiness that should be treasured, and, if the loneliness and dreariness become to much to bear, remembered. In the end, on our road of life, all we long for are happiness and fulfillment.
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