A Brighter Summer Day

A sprawling cast, set against a backdrop of political and social turmoil in early-’60s Taiwan, forms the basis for Yang’s masterpiece, which features the film debut of Chang Chen—who has since become one of China’s biggest stars—as Xiao Si’r, a 14-year-old torn between a life of juvenile delinquency or a more traditional path. Rival gangs roam the streets and their small, loaded dramas play out in rock clubs and the schoolyard, as the influence of the West not so subtly creeps in. Best known to American audiences as the filmmaker behind the sprawling, melancholic and beautiful Yi Yi (2000), Yang was a key member of the new Taiwanese cinema of the ‘80s and ‘90s alongside Tsai Ming-Liang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. “A Brighter Summer Day does what few films can, which is to show the ephemerality of people and the permanence of places—after four hours, every classroom and courtyard, brick gymnasium and clay tennis court, feels thick with human residue.”—Mark Asch, The L Magazine. (Taiwanese with English subtitles)

Read A.O. Scott’s review of A Brighter Summer Day for The New York Times (11/24/2011)

Genres: Drama