A Fish Out of Water
Shang’an de yu
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Yi-an is a young Taiwanese boy with who perplexes his parents: he speaks in a slightly creepy cold-eyed monotone, all the while claiming that he has another mother and another father, who brought him up in a seaside town. His non-imaginary parents, played to subtle perfection by Cheng Jen-shuo and Peggy Tseng, are at first disconcerted, then worried, then alarmed enough to take Yi-an to a psychiatric specialist equipped with an alarming brain-electrode helmet. But is Yi-an in fact disturbed? Clairvoyant? Gifted? Haunted? This graceful, soft-voiced, immaculately shot and ultimately deeply moving story keeps all options open.
Lai Kuo-an’s delicately etched family story unfolds as the financial and psychological stresses on Yi-an’s parents—his mother struggles as a real estate agent, his father makes dumplings and takes care of his own ailing father—come to a boiling point. This is finely observed social realism married with intimations of something more magical: first time director Lai achieves a remarkable, utterly original, exquisitely poised balance in this impressively achieved film. Mixing sadness, compassion and mystery, Lai portrays a family stressed to the breaking point, struggling to reach out to grasp a happiness that may be just out of reach.
— Shelly Kraicer
Preceded By: Hsiang YiDirector: Wu Zi En / Taiwan, 2017, 16 min.
Two boys have an extraordinary day in this meticulously designed, heartbreakingly lovely story.