Few modern directors have a signature style as easily identifiable as Tsai Ming-liang's. For one thing, Tsai uses very little dialogue and long, static takes with very little movement. He always works with the same actor, the deadpan Lee Kang-sheng (who also goes by his movie character's name, Hsiao-kang), perhaps a deliberate homage to Francois Truffaut's cycle of "Antoine Doinel" films starring Jean-Pierre Leaud. (Leaud literally grows up in these films, which include The 400 Blows, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, Love on the Run and the short film Antoine et Colette.)

In Tsai's great What Time Is It There? (2001) -- his most obvious Truffaut tribute -- Hsiao-kang plays a watch salesman who falls for Shiang-chyi (Chen Shiang-chyi) just before she goes off to France. He pines after her, renting French movies (The 400 Blows) and wondering about her. Later he meets the real-life Leaud in a park.

categories Cinematical