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I Don't Want to Sleep Alone

  • Film
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Tsai’s latest movie was commissioned for the New Crowned Hope project – which has already brought us such gems as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Syndromes and a Century’ –  which occasioned the Taiwanese filmmaker to take members of his long-term repertory company to film in his birth country, Malaysia. Here is regular actor Lee Kang-Sheng – some say Tsai’s cinematic alter-ego – playing two characters: the stroppy Kang, newcomer to Kuala Lumpur who annoys some street conmen and ends up in a bloody heap; and a doppelgänger who spends most of the movie in a coma being tended by a nurse (Chen Shiang-chyi, another Tsai faithful). Not too much should be made of Tsai’s change of locale, but in the re-focus of his empathetic eye on a new community of outsiders – the ethnically mixed generation of pan-Asian guest workers left high-and-dry by the burst bubble  of Malaysia’s economic boom – many critics have detected a more explicit tendresse in his always elegant, though tough and challenging, formal examinations of unfulfilled or unfulfillable emotional need.

However true that is, ‘...Sleep Alone’ proves that there has been no fundamental change in Tsai’s unique method of cinematic enquiry: his use of elemental metaphor or motif (especially water); contextualising longshot; his downplay of often inexpressive verbal intercourse in favour of wordless gesture, glance, touch (or sexual encounter) as a way of conjuring up the magic or pain of relationships; or his ability (with his cinematographer Liao Pen Jung) to film urban landscapes so expressively as to make them almost function like characters, often as lonely as the human ones, in his compassionate social architecture. It’s a film not only about social disintegration, but also about grace under undue pressure, where the giving of a cigarette to a stranger means far more than ‘a drop of kindness in a million sorrows’.

Written by Wally Hammond

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 16 November 2007
  • Duration:115 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Tsai Ming-liang
  • Screenwriter:Tsai Ming-liang
  • Cast:
    • Chen Shiang-Chyi
    • Lee Kang-sheng
    • Norman Atun
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