OTB#72: Brighter Summer Day


Anyway, I wasn’t really impressed with Yang’s other movie on this list, Yi Yi. But this one is four hours long, so it has to be awesome, right?

They seem to have many different age groups in the same class…? Or is it just odd casting and they’re all supposed to be the same age?

The acting’s pretty good, but I don’t know about the dialogue…

Anyway, this is a much more interesting movie than Yi Yi. It seems like it’s going to be mostly about gangs of kids fighting each other?

The cinematography is sometimes a bit Akermanesque — lots of shots through doors and down halls. But without the long takes, and with a camera that swivels a lot.

It’s mostly natural lighting, I guess? Which means that quite a few scenes are pretty dark.

I have to admit that I have no idea who most of the characters are, so fights seem to break out at random. They’re probably not that random! But I have no idea!

(They were talking about his wife.)

Scenes like this doesn’t really help with my general confusion — this was apparently an important conversation, but I don’t know who the participants in the conversation were.

Kinda like Rumblefish… Motorcycle boy (the old gang chief) is back…

I do understand that this movie is on the Top 100 list — it tics a lot of boxes: It’s a ponderous drama; the main characters are male; there’s flashes of violence; it’s an allegory for an entire society; etc. I.e., it’s “serious film”, and that it’s four hours long is a plus, since there’s a broader reaction to Netflix Extruded Film-Like Product going on.


I’ve seen a whole bunch better realised movies in this genre, so the universal praise feels really excessive. I think the movie is OK? It’s not annoying; the cinematography is pretty good; the actors are good; the dialogue is sometimes risible. I almost wish there was something major about this movie that I disliked, but I’m like just not feeling it. I’m not even bored.

But I’m not surprised:

Three different versions of the film were edited: the original 237-minute version, a three-hour version and a shorter 127-minute version.

There’s a lot of sub plots and characters that could be dropped without affecting much of anything.

The sexual politics of the ending is *rolls eyes*.

Brighter Summer Day. Edward Yang. 1991.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

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