Taiwanese director, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s newest work is based on a 1956 film by Lamorisse, but a much more delicate piece than the original. Set in Paris, it is a remarkably gorgeous documentary-style rendering of everyday life that is delightfully laced with fantasy. We follow the everyday life of a small boy: his frenetic mother, his new nanny, and friends and foes along the way. Nothing in particular stands out. There is no real crisis beyond getting through the day. The result is Zen-like: a gentle unfolding of dialogue and setting that takes one out of oneself.
It is a movie about nothing really, more than the day-to-day struggles of children and adults as they try to define life and their place in its daily flow. It is “Seinfeld” of a serious nature, where one can get lost in the frequent mindessness of living. Yet it clearly defines the evolution of relationships: between mother and child, care-giver and child, between neighbors and lovers, as seen in the periphery their of meaning.
What I love about Hou’s style? He never looks at anything directly in the eye. In doing so, the viewer must do that for himself in reflection. And it is a fine way to see things. As color, light and symbols captured in the film bouce back, with each glance, you see more.