THE HUSBAND’S SECRET

丈夫的秘密

Directed by Lin Tuan-chiu

Cast: Chang Mei-Yao, Chang Pan-Yang, Wu Li-fen

RESTORED IN 2018 BY THE TAIWAN FILM INSTITUTE

In a love triangle, it takes two to keep a secret. When Tshiu-bi comes home with news that she ran into an old classmate, Le-hun, her husband Siu-gi is struck by the thunder of guilt, regret, and repressed desire. What his wife doesn’t know is that Le-hun and her husband are former lovers. And when Tshiu-bi invites the homeless Le-hun into their home and lives, that thunder becomes an emotional typhoon of heart-pounding restraint. Le-hun can’t say a word either. Not to her caregiving old friend. Not in front of her four-year-old son who Siu-gi suspects might be his.

This is black-and-white melodrama of the tallest order, the kind that straddles the innocence of domesticity and the qipao-ripping salaciousness of the nightclub film. It’s also Taiwanese-language cinema at its most delightfully unbridled, with questions of class answered through secrets and tears. Director Lin Tuan-chiu’s background in Japan shows, from the Naruse-esque dive into the inner worlds of women, to the soundtrack’s cosmopolitan flair for jazz and classical. Preceding the better-known Pai Ching-jui, Lin infuses Taiwan locales with a sense of cinematic innovation: frames-within-frames, flashbacks-within-flashbacks. He also exhibits a sexual frankness that shows Taiwanese-language cinema to be far more daring than its uptight Mandarin cousins. In other words, this new restoration is a major re-discovery for Taiwanese cinema, a secret no more. 

–Brian Hu

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