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At a busy junction under a viaduct in Taipei, a diverse array of entrepreneurs are busy at work in the bleak fluorescent light. There’s a middle-aged couple running a modest snack bar, and bit further along a younger couple are emptying slot machines. In a market hall, scooters navigate their way among the merchandise; two bright red tropical fish in an aquarium exchange kisses.
In her debut film, director Nicole Vögele observes the scenes with great calm, alternating close-ups with wide shots and short conversations with silence to create a hypnotic rhythm. Sometimes it takes a while before you figure out what you’re looking at and how the settings and human subjects relate to one another. In combination with the striking soundtrack, the images of nocturnal Taipei make for an intriguing and playful viewer experience.
Some scenes are downright funny, like the one of the stray dog calmly waiting for the pedestrian light to go green before crossing the road, and the scooter rider having trouble parking. Only at the end do we leave the city, when we accompany the man from the snack bar on his journey into the countryside.