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Review: Days

Tsai Ming-liang’s Days begins with a title card that reads, “The film is intentionally unsubtitled.” That’s somewhat intimidating, to say the least... but it’s also surprisingly liberating. The absence of translated dialogue removes the burden of narrative context, allowing the viewer to judge the movie on the merits of its imagery alone.

And what deeper themes can we discern from said images? Well... a lot of them are quite wet: the characters soak in bathtubs, observe thunderstorms, and meticulously wash vegetables. I must, however, refrain from attempting to dissect this aquatic motif any further, as imposing my own concrete meaning upon the material would be both reductive and counterproductive. I would rather emphasize just how beautifully crafted the visuals themselves are. The aforementioned storm, for example, is glimpsed only through the reflection of swaying trees; the camera instead focuses on the face of our protagonist as he quietly watches the raindrops patter against the windowpane.

Despite its glacial pace and minimalistic (borderline nonexistent) plot, Days is ultimately a stylistic triumph. Tsai doesn’t need words to tell a coherent story; he expresses himself solely through the language of cinema.

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