Hidden Whisper

Hidden Whisper


Reviewed by: Nicola Osborne

This arresting and contemplative film follows three mother/daughter relationships: a very young girl begs with her crippled father; a bored shoplifting teenager befriends an amnesiac; a troubled woman visits her dying mother and recalls her past relationships.

For a conventional idea it's a surprise to see just how Bladerunner-ish this film looks, particularly in the first story of desperate and shocking poverty. Stylised camerawork reflects the young girl's point of view, with incidents appearing mysterious and magical. Bloodstains make the patterns of flowers. Cripples become comforting clowns. And most strikingly, in the disturbing domestic fights between mother and father, the violence appears as a gentle dance punctuated by distressing, yet bizarre comic poses. Both the child and her extremely messed-up parents give beautifully understated performances in what is often touching, difficult but compulsive viewing.

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The second and third sections are rather more mundane though some visual hints suggest that these may be later portions of the same lives. In the second the material is lighter, the characters better off and there are moments of comedy from the slightly delusional teenager and her hopelessly out-of-it friend. As is in the other stories, the protagonist's relationship with her mother is not a happy one...

By section three the relationship is almost non-existent, something pondered by the daughter as her mother both needs and fights with her. She also reflects on her failed romantic escapades in what forms by far the slowest and least interesting of the pieces, although the final shot provides a great end to this cyclical movie.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Three Mother/daughter relationships receive eloborate cinematic analysis in a beautiful but overlong drama.

Director: Vivian Chang

Writer: Vivian Chang

Starring: Hsiao Shu-shen, Shu Qi, Elaine Jin, Leon Dai, Tammy Tseng, Hsia Ching-ting, Huang Pin-hsuan. Jack Kao, Chang Kuo-chu, Chia Hsiao-kuo

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Taiwan


EIFF 2000

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