Millennium Mambo ★★★★★

"It snowed a lot that winter in Yubari."

Millennium Mambo, released in 2001 and Hou’s first to be theatrically distributed in the US, is his first film set entirely (well, almost) in the contemporary world since Daughter of the Nile, and like that film it tends to be passed over in favor of more ostensibly serious works (which also, perhaps not coincidentally, have male protagonists). A chronicle of a young woman in a bad relationship struggling to get by in the trancelike neon club haze of Taipei, the film is told in voiceover from ten years in the future, as Shu Qi’s Vicky looks back on her life in a tangled chronology of memories, impressions, dreams and failures. There doesn’t appear to be a definitive order of events, and how one chooses to place the film’s final scene in the timeline goes a long way toward determining if you see the film as ultimately hopeful or depressing.

Reviewed over at Seattle Screen Scene.

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