The Wayward Cloud

"The Wayward Cloud" is perhaps best described as a postmodern porn musical. I loved the opening scene, a long wide angle shot of two converging underground walkways. The camera just waits until two people appear. They walk past and that's it. Nothing much happens. There's something weird though. One of the women walking by is dressed in a nurse uniform and carries a big watermelon.

The watermelon and the nurse return in the second scene, which is absolutely hilarious and "juicy". The girl in the nurse uniform is lying on a bed with half of a watermelon positioned between her legs, the juicy bit facing the audience. A man starts to lick the watermelon and then drills a hole in it with his finger. The nurse writhes and moans. The man stuffs her mouth with watermelon. Her body tightens.

"The Wayward Cloud" explores the expressive power of cinema and the plot is secondary to the atmosphere it paints, so I won't attempt a summary. Director Tsai Ming-liang frequently suppresses continuity shots, because, well, who needs them anyway, and makes frequent use of wide camera angles, which add to the alienating, desolate atmosphere of the film.

The film's basic premise is interesting and original and I loved the way Tsai Ming-liang has pursued its logic. Taiwan suffers from a water shortage and the government advices its citizens to eat watermelons instead of drinking water.

"The Wayward Cloud" is the kind of film that lingers on and gets underneath your skin. Was that woman at the end dead or did she just pass out? There are also many hilarious scenes. In one scene, during the filming of a porn movie, a woman is toying herself with a water bottle when the cap gets lodged in her vagina. The closing "shot" is also quite memorable. From a cinematic point of view I found it quite brilliant, the way a tear falls down her cheek and a bead of sweat runs down his cheek. But you'd have to see it to know what I'm talking about.