Millennium Mambo

"Weak"

Millennium Mambo Review


What's a girl to do? Nothing seems to be going right for the young and beautiful Vicky (Qi Shu) as she makes her way around noisy and chaotic Taipei looking for ways to get her life heading in the right direction. Hsaio-Shien Hou's Millennium Mambo is a grim and ultimately unrewarding slice of Vicky's life that slowly -- very slowly -- tries to move from point A to point B but never really arrives.

Vicky's biggest problem: her no-good boyfriend Hao-Hao (Chun-Hao Tuan). Unemployed, strung out on drinks, drugs, and an endless supply of cigarettes (this may be the ultimate smoker's movie), Hao-Hao spends most of his time in the couple's tiny apartment practicing to be a DJ and working himself up into jealous rages. When Vicky arrives home after a night on the town with the girls, he smells her neck and then goes through her handbag looking for receipts and phone cards that might implicate her in some kind of deception. A female narrator tells us that Vicky leaves Hao-Hao all the time, but she always comes back "as if hypnotized."

Out and about, Vicky befriends Jack (Jack Kao), a low-level mobster who manages the hostess club where she sometimes dances for a little extra cigarette money. Over and over she moans to him that "I don't know what I should do." Jack seems to care and helpfully suggests that she might consider getting a respectable job in a nearby upscale coffee shop, but she looks at him as if he were completely nuts. Apparently, a job isn't part of Vicky's plan.

She has slightly better luck with a charming pair of half-Japanese brothers who invite her to visit them in their hometown in the snowy reaches of northern Hokkaido. She makes the trip and finds herself delighted by the scenery and the vibe. The contrast between frantic Taipei and the snow-covered silences of the small Japanese town couldn't be more stark.

Clearly Hou intends for Vicky to symbolize something, but it's unclear what. Is she representative of a lost generation of consumerist kids who drink and drug and propel their lives in no particular direction while a relentless techno beat throbs in the background? (The film's soundtrack is excellent, a veritable feast for techno fans.) Is she a female victim of a world controlled by stupid men? If Hou means to use Vicky to demonstrate the dehumanizing effect of modern city life, he doesn't come close to matching the punch of fellow countryman Tsai Ming-Liang, whose many challenging and powerful films of Taiwanese urban angst (The River, The Hole, What Time Is It There?, Vive L'Amour) are full of unforgettable imagery. By comparison, Vicky's problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Though Qi Shu deserves credit for her screen presence and stamina (she's in every scene and smokes many cigarettes), there's only so much she can do with the flatly drawn character she's been giving. The bottom line is that Vicky simply needs to snap out of it, dump her crummy boyfriend once and for all, quit smoking, and get herself a decent job.

The DVD includes one extended scene and an interview with the director.

Aka Qianxi Manbo.

Note to self: Clean Post-Its off fridge.



Millennium Mambo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 31st October 2001

Distributed by: Palm Pictures

Production compaines: Paradis Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Vicky, as Hao-Hao, Yi-Hsuan Chen as Xuan, Jun Takeuchi as Jun, as Doze, Jack Kao Kuo-Hsin as Jack

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.