TIGERTAIL – Review

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Tigertail, which marked Alan Yang’s directing debut after being known as the author of series such as Parks and Recreation to Master of None, divides his story in two time settings. In the past, cinematographer Nigel Bluck packed his picture with grainy texture to add the impression of “old film”. While the modern setting seems clear, even though the protagonist’s heart and mind are content, I’m sure it’s not as clear.

Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma) is the name of our protagonist. An old man who lives alone in America, after divorcing with his wife, Zhenzhen (Fiona Fu), while the relationship with his daughter, Angela (Christine Ko), is less harmonious. Pin-Jui is more silent in front of Angela. After he spoke, a curt statement of tone came out of his mouth, including when he opposed his daughter’s marriage to a man, who, according to Pin-Jui, was financially incapable. Top Movie Site

When Zhenzhen expressed his intention to divorce, Pin-Jui argued, that he should have been happy that many good clothes and cars had been bought during their marriage. But Tigertail isn’t (just) talking about “money isn’t everything.” Through a flashback, Alan Yang (also writing the script) brought the audience to visit the life of young Pin-Jui (Hong Chi-Lee) while still living in poverty in Taiwan with his mother, Minghua (Yang Kuei-mei).

Poverty breeds ideals, then ambition to get a better life. Pin-Jui wants to move to America. A land full of dreams, prosperity, and freedom. At least he thought. This ambition formed a misunderstanding of the way of life based on the drive to improve the lot and advice, especially from the grandmother who took care of Pin-Jui when she was a child.

This holiness produces selfishness. Pin-Jui unconsciously determines what the people around him want. Pin-Jui was upset when the mother refused to be taken to America. “Isn’t that what you want ?!”, he said. But it is not. That is Pin-Jui’s wish. Just like the nice clothes and car for Zhenzhen earlier. After decades, Pin-Jui finally achieved his ideals, which ironically, instead kept him away from loved ones, including his first and true love, Yuan (Yo-Hsing Fang). Best Movie

I don’t know when Pin-Jui and Angela’s estrangement began, but one of the seeds must have been when Little Angela made a mistake in a piano recital. Seeing her little daughter crying, Pin-Jui just acted hard. “Don’t cry!” He snapped, imitating his grandmother’s words to him decades ago.

Alienation, solitude, reality that betrays dreams. These elements were raised by Alan Yang as a description of the fate of immigrants in the United States. In fact, life in the land of dreams is not easy. Of course there will be an obligatory montage of Pin-Jui’s daily reps as shopkeepers, which will make us associate Tigertail with other films on the theme of “the rigors of life”. Indeed there is nothing new in this film.

Regarding the relationship between Pin-Jui and Angela, Tigertail also discussed the effort to open up. But the film itself is not very good at opening up. In the first half, the non-linear narration jumped up and down, at one point, the Pin-Jui narration suddenly appeared as the first person who was telling the princess, who afterwards was not heard again, resulting in ambiguity, whether Tigertail’s plot was a process of storytelling Pin-Jui to Angela or not.

Because of his selfishness, Pin-Jui is not too likeable, but slowly grows sympathy, so I began to imagine how painful and lonely the possibility of spending the last years living in solitude, while being overcome by remorse due to mistakes in making decisions. The word “if” must always be haunting. I also hope that Pin-Jui and Angela make peace. Of course it is not easy, although for the sake of heartwarming nuances, the conclusion is impressive. But it is not entirely wrong, because self-disclosure does open the door to peace. Movie Review

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