Cast: Aria Wang, Chuang Kai-Hsun, Fu Meng-Po, Michael JQ Huang, Samuel K
Official Selection, 2018 International Film Festival Rotterdam
Best Director, 2018 Taipei Film Festival
“Stories from the future hide in the past.” Hsiao Ya-chuan’s devastating and gorgeous third film FATHER TO SON wends through Taiwan’s emerald alleyways and small storefronts following handsome Van Pao-te (Michael JQ Huang), a repairman contemplating a terminal diagnosis and the emptiness left by a father who abandoned him. Meditative and deeply emotional, Hsiao braids past into present with stories that leak into each other, an echo chamber of Taiwan’s colonial history rippling in the next generation, in a film that will sink deep into your heart as it breaks it.
In the small town of Chiayi, Van’s life has a familiar rhythm punctuated only by the distant approach of his declining health and nights of alcohol and karaoke therapies prescribed by a libidinous buddy. Submerged somewhere in Van’s leathery depths is a constellation of people and places connected by secrets – a faded hotel run by a sophisticated woman (Aria Wang) returned from Hong Kong, a laundry with an ailing proprietress, post-war hospitals, and his own neatly kept hardware store managed with a grown son (Fu Meng-Po) he playfully communicates with on walkie-talkie. Like a mutation from Van’s past, a young beautiful visitor sets the wheels turning, and he takes up a chance to visit Japan and begin an uncertain search for his father with his protective son by his side.
FATHER TO SON unfolds a range of tender masculinities – gentle friendships amongst men, and elders caring for a younger generation – perhaps a soft echo of Hsiao’s bond with his producer, the legendary Hou Hsiao-hsien, but also suggesting souls entwining to counter the unmooring effects of families stretched thin across oceans.
– Christina Ree
* All Taiwan Film Showcase screenings at UCSD are free for UCSD staff, faculty, and students.