Millennium Mambo

2001 [CHINESE]

Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 7.0 10 5616

Plot summary

December 24, 2022 at 06:24 AM


Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Top cast

Qi Shu as Vicky
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
970.95 MB
Chinese 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 45 min
P/S ...
1.76 GB
Chinese 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 45 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by asc85 8 / 10

Strangely Compelling

I find that I can't get this film out of my mind. This is one of the saddest, most depressing films I've seen in a few years. I think one of the reasons why it is so sad is that the director juxtaposes scenes where Shu Qi is radiantly happy to those where she's stuck in her miserable life, and I think this contrast amplifies the depressing circumstances we see. As others have mentioned, this film doesn't have much of a plot, and I personally find these kinds of films difficult to appreciate. But for some reason, I find myself strangely compelled by this film. I agree with an earlier poster that the opening scene of Shu Qi running in slow motion with the techno music throbbing in the background (from a PHENOMENAL soundtrack as others have also noted) is extremely powerful and compelling. Early in the movie, I also liked the scene where Shu Qi is being "checked out" by her whacked out boyfriend, and she barely tolerates it in classic passive-aggressive style. I think the long takes with little action work because Shu Qi is so compelling (re: gorgeous), that she can just sit there smoking a cigarette and the audience (or at least me) is totally captivated.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 7 / 10

Such beautiful angst

In a revealing interview included on the DVD, Hou Hsiao Hsien says he wanted "Millennium Mambo" to be a picture of Taipei night life and also "much more," a "multifaceted" film with "multiple points of view" that he would have liked to make six hours long; something post-modern and deconstructed and free-form and improvised, but "modernist" too in some aspects.

The actual film isn't so much multifaceted or plot less as it is a portrait in the moment of a few people composed, with a voice-over from ten years later, from the point of view of a pretty middle-class girl called Vicky (The bee-sting-lipped, doe-eyed Qi Shu, who also stars in the present-day chapter of Hou's recent "Three Times") who's stuck in a dysfunctional relationship with a spoiled, also pretty, middle-class boy, the bleached-haired Hao Hao (Chun-hao Tuan), who does drugs and hits on Vicky when she least wants to be hit on and who won't work and, as Vicky's omnipresent voice-over tells us, at one point has stolen his dad's Rolex and pawned it for a lot of money. They live together and hang out at clubs and Vicky works at a bar as a "hostess," a euphemism for a lap dancer who does drugs and drinks with customers and probably has sex with them -- like Liang Ching (Annie Shizuka Inoh) the actress-narrator of Hou's 1995 "Good Men, Good Women." Vicky's bar job gets her involved with an older gangsterish man named Jack (Jack Kao, the actress Liang Ching's dead lover in "Good Men").

"Millennium "Mambo" doesn't show us Taipei nightlife in any collective or panoramic sense. It shows us -- a few times -- the hazy corners of a few bright clubs with little crowds of attractive young people playing games and doing drugs and alcohol, and it shows us -- many times -- corners of the apartment where Vicky and Hao Hao live, and bits of a mountain town in Hokkaido, Japan where Vicky goes, invited initially by a couple of boys she meets.

Atypically for Hou, the camera moves around quite a bit too in this film, following the people and hugging their faces and bodies -- but also lingering, in his old style, statically observing doorways, walls, light fixtures, or windows with a train going by outside. Many cigarettes are lit, many are smoked. Meth is puffed in a pipe. Hao Hao pouts. Vicky looks sad or angry. The couple break up, but Vicky comes back, or Hao Hao comes after her. It's approach/avoidance: he tells her she's from another planet, but he keeps getting her back. Jack is an oasis for Vicky; but at a crucial time in winter when she goes to Japan, he isn't available, leaving her a key and a cell phone, to wander the streets. She lies in bed. She stares out the window. In a long outtake on the DVD about her Japan sojourn, Jack actually calls her and she's got a cold. In the final cut, he never calls, and she remains healthy. What's left isn't much, though as always for Hou and for many Chinese directors, the visuals are lush and beautifully lit, even if the frames are empty and the plot line, though never absent as his interview promises, goes nowhere. "Millennium Mambo's" reference to the end of the millennium (and perhaps changes in China and Hongkong?) seems, like the six-hour movie and the portrait of Taipei nightlife Hou promises in his interview, to have come to us as little more than the pretty but empty fragments of a vague, lost intention. This is a remake of Antonioni's "L'Avventura," in winter, with young attractive Asians -- and Qi Shu as the new Monica Vitti -- but without the world-weariness or awareness of any sort of fading cultural heritage, and with, instead of Antonioni's haunting white noise, a nagging techno score.

Reviewed by alsolikelife 9 / 10

The world's greatest director is a time-junkie...

Hou's latest film, I saw as part of Village Voice's Best Undistributed Films of 2001 series, feels like a mixing and modulation of his last three: a young woman's abortive but contemplative contemporary existence (GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN), a moment-by-moment addiction to thrill-seeking (GOODBYE SOUTH GOODBYE) and a love affair entombed in drugs (FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI) all figure into Hou's attempt to lyricize the moment we are living in -- NOW. The result is a film that seems immensely fascinated in each moment it is capturing -- luminescent bodies dancing in an underground rave; a man inhaling and exhaling smoke from a makeshift bong; the absolute wonder of one's facial imprint in an immaculately white snowbank -- until those moments lead to other moments of inescapable banality or dread. Hou enhances this addiciton-to-the-moment with a voice-over that takes place in 2010, giving away plot points before they happen on-screen; since narrative convention no longer matters, the result is an even more intense experience of the moment tied in with an odd sensation of retrospection (no one messes around with the concept of history more than Hou). The give-and-take of this kind of project is that not everything will succeed on a dramatic level, but the experience of this film (and I do mean *experience*) is too exquisite to be denied. There are no less than half a dozen moments in this film, easily the most sumptuously photographed of the year, whose sheer beauty in harmonizing time and image are timeless treasures: objects and settings seem to take on a life of their own, before they are inevitably swept under the ever-moving carpet of time.

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