Daughter of the Nile
Daughter of the Nile is directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien who is one of the leading filmmakers of the Taiwanese New wave movement that started in the early 1980s. It is considered one of the most influential cinema movements and struck a chord with many around the world. Today I thought I will bring forward a lovely film from that era that is a tender and realist tale of young people in Taipei in the 80s. At the centre of the film here we have Hsiao-Yang who is trying to do her best to keep herself financially afloat at the same time take care of her siblings. She must keep her siblings away from their tendencies to slip into a life of crime, which seems to be a recurring theme in 80s Taiwanese new wave films.
“Life always forces us to keep moving forward”, says a character and we struggle to make sense of it all sometimes. It is that crisis that is at the heart of this film. Crime, death and Taiwan’s capitalistic inclination are all part of the film’s world but secondary to sentiments that follow. The root of the problems in youth is important but the consequences even more so. The carefree and happy lives could all turn gloomy in a second and vice versa. That’s where Chu Tien-wen and co-writers do such a great job of making the world lived-in and unpredictable. Innocence, words unsaid, optimism are all lost in the flow of time. This is what characters experience. The cinematographer Chen Hwai-En who has collaborated with Hou on multiple films does a wonderful job of capturing both the night life and interiors. This is probably the most subtly ambitious among Hou’s earlier films while being an homage to Yasujirō Ozu with evocative static shots that punctuate scenes. The mood of it all is accentuated by the diegetic music Hou picks. Hou’s drama is reflective of the real Taipei life in the 80s. For a portrayal this realist, Hou sweeps the rug under your feet effortlessly and when it all ends you will believe in the magic of cinema, more so than ever.
A moody love letter to youth with blue-hued skies, neon lit urbanscapes, motorcycles, bonfires, fireworks and pop songs.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.