A Brighter Summer Day

A Brighter Summer Day ★★★★★


In one of the many expository "dream sequences" in Christopher Nolan's Inception, Leonardo DeCaprio's Cobb explains to Elliot Page's Ariadne that "Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." It's not only an accurate statement but one that applies just as beautifully to the world of the cinema. The lights go down, the audience tunes in, and the world painted across the silver screen is our everything. When the final shot cuts or fades and the credits start scrolling, the trance dissipates like a shock to the system. A truly great film allows every aspect of reality to reorganize while we're away, and when the real world welcomes us home, it knows what we've been through. It greets us with an aching, bittersweet accord, for it knows not what has occurred in our minds and hearts. Neither do we.

A Brighter Summer Day is that kind of film. Impossibly grand and yet intimate in every facet of societal shifts, relationships, romances, and familiar turmoil; Edward Yang's 4 hour epic is vibrant because of the lengths it explores its characters, unfolding an entire tapestry by capturing a multitude of fights, schooling, first loves, and a worldview in transition. In spite of its daunting run-time, Edward Yang's masterpiece (it has to be, right?) is intensely engrossing, with humor and violence peppering a canvas with flavor alongside serene tranquility. This is a perfect movie, revolutionary in every way and quietly overwhelming. I was bawling my eyes out by the end. Its depiction of the passage of time is immeasurable, and the film as a whole is a remarkable achievement; one for history. It is the equivalent of seeing the face of God and that isn't an exaggeration like you'd think.

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