Millennium Mambo ★★★★

The feeling of emptiness is not about when you find yourself alone in the dark, but obviously having someone nearby who is incompatible to you. Under the fluorescent lights, Vicky purposelessly wanders. The camera tilts downs to follow her from behind, the surroundings become more discernible, from dizzying haze to clarity. Her arms extended the moment she moves forward in slow motion through the dimly lit street bridge, and as she glances back, her eyes intimately interlock your eyes as if telling you to come alone, with her. The camera keeps lurching forward whereas the music gets louder until the ears are blocked from all sounds. Days of future past. Years ahead in the future, the girl wistfully harkens back the collages of moments and short-lived instances that carved from within her memories. She is smoking a cigarette, wallowing in a nebula while unknowingly hurling toward the concrete slabs of nostalgic beauty, pain, and regrets. She recalls herself in 3rd person - as if life had drifted by with her having no authorial sense of control; as if she were under a spell that she just could not escape, hypnotized and transcended into an intangible being.

Millennium Mambo rests within its formless and fragmented context, which makes time flow like a fluid, condensed simply to vaporize, colored by a tinge of hope. It all feels like we are watching something slowly slipping out of the realm of evanescent dream, a disjointed dream that adds up to…nothing. Its iridescence unfurls in a blur of motion, that strongly elucidates the movie’s ephemeral emotions and renders future as a bygone era that has already passed. This is Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s time capsule of existential ennui - people spending time raving in nightclubs, inebriated, long pauses provided between each interval only to make way for inward loops of electronica. More so, these glimpses are chaotic yet also serene enough that they don’t offer us peace, but instead projecting a mirage of profound sadness onto our subconscious stream, without any intention to resolve itself. Vicky face-printed herself in the Yubari's snow, she ate spicy noodles, she fell in and out of love and she did not finish high school. She did not come back. She fled to a foreign land, with time eventually lapsed and herself abandoned on the deserted street. Akin to fleeting adolescence, like any other moment, dissipates in winters white before it’s grasped.

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