Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival, Vive L’Amour (1994) focuses on three individuals connected provisionally by way of an unoccupied duplex that they each use for various trysts or as a kind of isolation cell, a retreat, or a zone of suspension. The three characters in Vive L’Amour are little more than extensions of the spaces that connect them in their disconnectedness.
Director Tsai Ming-liang was born in Malaysia of Chinese ethnic background and did not find himself in Taiwan until he was already an adult. He has often spoken in interviews of habitually feeling like an outsider, a foreigner in any community.
Tsai’s films consistently focus on urban spaces and shared living spaces. Places and spaces often figure as radically untethered non-places, and there is a presiding sense of disorientation and dislocation. Information is often strategically withheld in order to keep the viewer unbalanced and geographically confused. An inability to connect endemic to this broken-up urban landscape and its atomized denizens is exacerbated by breakdown in communication. Vive L’Amour, like subsequent Tsai films, contains long sequences of slow-burn emotional rawness in which the performers commit themselves with brave dedication. Desire is routinely suppressed, but is everywhere operative, and frequently causes spasms and various forms of acting out, leading to breathtaking feats of performance.
-Written by Jason Wierzba