5 March 2006 | JoeLon
Like all of Tsai's films, challenging, but this time in perhaps a different way
The Wayward Cloud features everything one expects from a Tsai Ming-Liang film, but it is also much more sexually explicit. The shot compositions, the use of space, and the choreography of the musical numbers are excellent. However, not everyone is going to enjoy a musical number featuring a woman and men dressed as the fluid that she had just received a moment before in the main narrative.
I understand the perspective of those who argue that Tsai doesn't have a clear point here, as he does in his other films. I would argue, though, that the film is more challenging because it does not offer the glimmer of hope found in Tsai's previous films (the woman pulled up in The Hole, May's dignity even as she cries at the end of Vive L'amour). The viewer has to piece together any hope from various parts of the film, as the shocking finale is not at all uplifting.
Tsai has some real insights into the human condition here. Xiao Kang's autoerotic sexuality has a lot to say about loneliness and insecurity. Also, the flirtation between Xiao Kang and Shiang-chyi is very charming, even sexy (I'm thinking especially of the way Xiao Kang leans against the elevator after their date.) I think this film's vision brings to light the way sexuality has become a commodity, and I find it tragic that Xiao Kang and Shiang-chyi find that there is great difficulty in overcoming that commodification.