A Brighter Summer Day

Edward Yang’s magnum opus “A Brighter Summer Day” (1991), the Taiwanese movie about teen crime drama.

It is based on a real life incident of a student killing his girlfriend, but Yang has woven a family drama around it. There are two strands to the movie, one about school children getting involved in street crime, debts, girl friends, jealousies, etc. and another about a family of a government bureacrat and his family. The connection is that two of his sons are involved in both the strands – one with a debt problem another who is tormented at such young age with a girl whom he thinks that she loves him.

The girl Ming (Lisa Young) plays around and has many affairs going on. The boy Xiao S’ir (Chang Chen) is the central character in the movie. Yang has woven other sub plots into the movie such as tension with mainland China, (this family has migrated from Shanghai), the father is arrested by the secret police and interrogated for days about his associates and the stress in the family.

Yang has kept the focus on different aspects of the movie beautifully, but the length of the movie at 3.56 hours is way too long, i feel. All the actors have played their roles very well, there is nary any bad scene in the entire movie. This movie got a lot of awards at the international circuit and is considered one of the landmark movies in Taiwanese cinema.

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