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The Time to Live and the Time to Die
Time Out says
A subtle, deeply moving picture of Taiwanese history seen through the eyes of a boy whose family has recently emigrated from the Mainland. As a child in the '50s, Ah Xiao's life seems one long summer of playing marbles, chasing friends, and listening to grandma's plans to return home. But family illness provides his first taste of death, and years later he has grown into a loutish teenager, torn between filial duty and the need to prove himself on the streets. Hou's autobiographically-based film is as beautifully performed, shot and scored as his earlier Summer at Grandpa's, but there is a distinct progress in the depiction of the wider dynamics of society. It is the unflinching, unsentimental honesty that supplies the elegiac intelligence: Hou's quiet style bursts forth, here and there, into sudden, superlative scenes of untrammelled emotional power. It's a brilliantly simple but multi-faceted portrait of loss and the complacency of childhood: quite literally, we can't go home again.