Toronto Movies

Toronto Movies

A Brighter Summer Day

A Brighter Summer Day
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Director: Edward Yang
Producer: Yu Weiyan
Cast: Elaine Jin, Kuo-Chu Chang, Zhang Zhen, Han Chang, Chuan Wang, Lisa Yang, Wang Qizan, Lawrence Ko, Tan Zhigang, Tang Xiaocui
Length: 185 minutes

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A Brighter Summer Day Synopsis

Edward Yang's fifth picture is a novelistic exploration of the meanings and contradictions of Taiwanese cultural identity. Set in 1960, and based on a true incident weighing heavily on Yang's own youth, the film -- which, in its unedited form, clocks in at just under four hours -- primarily focuses on the life of S'ir, a high school student whose civil servant father was among the millions of Chinese mainlanders who fled to Taipei in the wake of 1949's civil uprisings. In the picture's opening scenes, it is revealed that S'ir is teetering on the brink of academic expulsion; like so many of the film's characters, he is clearly yearning for a stronger sense of belonging, and as a result joins a youth gang, much to the detriment of his life at home and at school. In time, he falls for Ming, a flirtatious girl with domestic troubles of her own; this ill-fated couple's circle of friends also includes Honey, an exiled gang leader, Si'r's best friend Xiao Ma, and Cat, a younger boy obsessed with Elvis Presley. (The lyrics to Presley's Are You Lonesome Tonight?, phonetically transcribed by Si'r's older sister, lend the film its title.)


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