Guo is a middle-aged police detective nearing retirement. He is stern, stubborn, and solitary, and lives alone in a boarding room after divorce. The boarding room is the presidential suite of a shabby hotel. He walks his dog in a deserted railroad yard every day, spends his holidays volunteering at ...(Read more)
Guo is a middle-aged police detective nearing retirement. He is stern, stubborn, and solitary, and lives alone in a boarding room after divorce. The boarding room is the presidential suite of a shabby hotel. He walks his dog in a deserted railroad yard every day, spends his holidays volunteering at nursing homes for the aged, and often visits two sexy “betel-nuts beauties,” Wen and Sue. Sometimes, he even helps deal with customers who harass the girls. The girls, however, never know about their hero’s identity. Wen even denounces cops as “head-gangsters” to Guo’s face sometimes. One day, Guo takes a crime case about a college girl who died of drug overdose. However, he suspects that the girl was abused. Ignoring pressures from his colleagues, as well as the threats from the gangs, he holds onto the case by following Lai, the dead girl’s best friend. It turns out that Guo’s paranoia is driven by guilt: twenty years ago, Guo made a drug-addict a scapegoat for a murder that the drug-addict didn’t commit. His method was extracting “confessions” of the drug-addict through torture. What’s worse, that man happens to be Wen’s father.
Growing up in the lower class strata in Yilan County, Cheng Wen-Tang began his career making documentaries about democratic movements on the streets of Taipei in the 1980s. This experience makes his later works—be they documentaries or fiction films—full of social consciousness and critique. This film shows a lower-class world through the lens of a lonely, rough, and frustrated cop. It foregrounds laborers, social outcasts, and low-rank cops whose job is to control them, in its narrative. The betel-nut beauties in the film are common throughout Taiwan, especially in the south. Although they are sex objects for men, they are also tough, smart, sophisticated yet unsullied. They survive class inequality, fight against patriarchal values, and establish strong self-identity. In addition to the aforementioned social dimensions, the film also engages deeply with political issues. Torture by the police in the film reflects the institutional violence imposed by the modern state apparatus on its people. It is a form of the “banality of evil,” and highlights tensions between the law and its executors. Moreover, it also invokes memories about the White Terror in Taiwan from the 1950s to the 1980s. After Taiwan’s political regime was transformed from dictatorship to democracy in the late 1980s, and later went through two transfers of governing power between political parties, the issue of Transitional Justice emerges. Wan Jen’s Super Citizen Ko (1996) is a classic film centering on political victims of the White Terror. Tears turns the lens to life of the perpetrators of state violence (Guo and other cops), as well as the victim’s families (Wen and her dying mother), also shows their suffering. Therefore, the film not only addresses issues of confession and confrontation, but also those of redemption, forgiveness, vengeance, and the (im)possibility of reconciliation in Taiwan society.
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Theme：||Cultural Conflict、History、The City、Society|
|Actors：||TSAI Chen-Nan, Enno CHENG, Serena FANG, HUANG Jian-Wei, HUANG Chien-Wei, Doris|
|Screenplay：||CHENG Wen-Tang, CHENG Jin-Fen|
|Excluded for public screenings：||Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Brunei|
James LIU, Joint Entertainment International Inc.
2009 Busan International Film Festival
2009 Golden Horse Awards, nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Film Song
2010 Taipei Film Awards, Best Director Award
2010 Asian Film Festival Roma, Best Actor Award
2010 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival