I Have Seen a Face: YOUR FACE by Tsai Ming-liang

Your Face feels to be a very logical continuation in Tsai`s approach to cinema. It refuses to fall neatly into any category, and despite it somehow tells stories, it stands far from the “solid” narrative that has never been the pivotal point for Tsai; the long and longer takes and silent treatments are as present as ever. With this statement comes a prophecy: if you like it, you like it, if you don`t, you`ll suffer.

Faces of twelve people and one hall that each gets approximately 6 minutes (alright, the hall gets some 8 minutes). The protagonists, with one exception, are people approached by Tsai and the cinematographer of Your Face, Ian Ku, mostly in the streets of Taipei. That one face belongs to none other than Lee Kang-sheng, who is simply a vital element to Tsai`s films. The idea of a film based on a series of faces isn`t new, nor is the knowledge of the effect of a long take. Still, it can be interesting to see the results. Because what you see is what is important.

In a way, Your Face feels like a cinematic reply to Kahlil Gibran`s Faces:
I have seen a face with a thousand countenances, and a face that was but a single countenance as if held in a mould.
I have seen a face whose sheen I could look through to the ugliness beneath, and a face whose sheen I had to lift to see how beautiful it was.
I have seen an old face much lined with nothing, and a smooth face in which all things were graven.
I know faces, because I look through the fabric my own eye weaves, and behold the reality beneath.

It might only be might “thing” for Tsai, but I found this piece of his fascinating. And yes, I am fully aware there have been others to take on the face-play.

I have written more for Asian Movie Pulse and you are more welcome to also browse the reviews of my colleagues.

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