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Exit (2015) |

Director: Hsiang Chienn

Cast: Ming Hwa Bai, Shiang-chyi Chen, Ming-hsiang Tung, Chen-Ling Wen

90min  Taiwanese   Drama

The menopause is a topic that rarely figures in modern drama. Certainly not a positive time in most most women’s lives – in the West it is viewed with a range of emotions ranging from mild pity to downright derogation. But in the Far East, where older people command respect and often admiration, the emotionally effects of the menopause are often milder both physically and mentally suggesting that positive societal attitudes can alleviate symptoms.

And there is something admirable about Hsiang Chienn’s gentle and sensitive handling of this theme that affects its central character Ling (a subtle and measured performance by Chen) a Taiwanese woman in her forties who is clearly suffering the effects brought on by this change of life .

Having just lost her job in a garment factory, Ling is preoccupied with the future, anxious for her mother-in-law in hospital and dealing with a troublesome and distant teenage daughter. Her husband is working abroad and never returns her calls so she appears to be isolated and lacking in any emotional support. Hsiang Chienn shows insight and understanding of her character’s anxiety. Though there are occasional longueurs and the classic Taiwanese static shots where Ling moves in and out of the frame, the narrative maintains a manageable pace, allowing us time out for contemplation.

In the same hospital ward lies Chang, a young man who has undergone eye surgery and in incredible pain. His suffering seems to suffuse the drama with added poignancy as Ling develops a strange and attachment to him and she starts to day-dream of romantic scenarios as she intimately tends Chang, possibly excited by his vulnerable and semi-naked, blindfolded state. Gradually she becomes more excited about her visits to the hospital as a unorthodox intimacy develops with this mysterious young stranger with beautiful feet.

With it soft-lensing and delicate aesthetic EXIT is a daintily-crafted piece with shades of Wong Ka Wai’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, the voyeuristic camera lingers on well-composed shots, drifting around, often out of focus. Summer Lei’s tango score ramps up the erotic expectancy surrounding the couple and soon Ling is undressing him to gently give him a bed bath, her touch increasing positive healing in them both, showing how physical re-connection can be therapeutic and emotionally affecting, even if the outcome is ultimately frustrating. A graceful and appealing drama. MT




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