Last updated on April 12, 2020
In a bit over 90 minutes but with the capacity to sustain itself for at least an hour more, Tigertail feels as though something Harvey Weinstein could have cut together from the 90s, contrary to the will of their filmmaker, perhaps having an army of attorneys hovering about the area.
However, Tigertail is not a Miramax movie from 1996 — even though the sway of Hou Hsaio-Hsien and Ang Lee is real — it’s a Netflix film circa 2020. And whatever liberty Yang should have been granted feels marginally wasted.
Like this terrific season one incident of Master of Not along with his Apple TV series Little America, Tigertail is just another personal narrative about immigrants pursuing the American dream, enticed like it’s some type of pyramid scheme.
He worked hard, was regarded as a chatterbox, and could sneak out on every adventure with the girl he adored. As an old guy in the USA, he’s near-silent, divorced, and estranged from his only daughter, faking to endure the remainder of his years independently.
Tigertail intercuts between the present and past with very little elegance.
Yang nevertheless displays an amazing talent for catching the disposition. I haven’t been to Taiwan, less the Taiwan of the 1960s and 70s, but beneath Yang’s watchful eye, the scenes out of Pin-Jui’s childhood feel authentic, evocatively shot at the design of Wong Kar-Wai movies and brimming with energy. There’s optimistic exuberance to such scenes, a carefree sense of liberty, regardless of the intense financial strain the figures are going through.
I know that Yang is attempting to make purposeful parallels between the romanticism of Pin-Jui’s past along with also the drab distress of his current. Two scenes are particularly on-the-nose. As a youth, he felt no pity when he learned he could not afford a meal in a fancy restaurant. He just reprimanded the server for his rudeness and hurried away together with his girlfriend, Yuan. Afterward, on his very first day in the united states, having abandoned Yuan supporting and married another girl, when Pin-Jui realizes he can not afford a meal in a normal Chinese restaurant, he’s overcome with despair. The tune that once made him match his dance and worries, he associates with all the struggles of fitting into a new culture.
The modern-day scenes are so stark in their own realism two things occur: first, the last seems to be much more magical than it possibly was, and next, the grimness creates the current sense just like a documentary postscript, similar to the last minutes of Schindler’s List.
Tigertail feels just like a condensed notification of an epic narrative, as though it’s the consequence of just a few chats Yang may have experienced with his adoptive parents, or, worse, even as though it’s established off years of discussions which were lost in favor of a highlights reel.
This may seem harsh, but it is a movie that had such potential, one which revealed signs of a thrilling new voice in American filmmaking, the simple fact that it could not reach the attractiveness of something such as Roma or The Farewell, together with which it shares celebrity Tzi Ma, feels just like a terrible loss.